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The Most Humongous Jellyfish in the World

Source: Personal experience (Sea Story)

Read this and other stories in the book, Noticing Nature, by Chuck Bonner. Also available in e-book format for Amazon Kindle.

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One evening on the South China Sea, I was hanging out on the forecastle of the USS Truxtun talking with Dave. (I rarely name other people on this Web site, but I don't think I'm revealing any personal information here. Half of my division was named either "Dave" or "Jim.") I was just beginning to discover computers at the time, and Dave was the first person I knew who owned a computer, so we were likely talking about his efforts to create a program for his TRS-80 that would calculate a critical rod height for the ship's nuclear reactors. The conversation went on longer than usual, and it began to grow dark.

As we idly stared at the passing glassy-smooth water in the gathering twilight, we suddenly both looked at each other with amazement. "Did you see that?!"

Yes, we had both seen it.

It was the most humongous jellyfish in the world!

It was hovering just at the surface, the texture of its near-transparent bell showing above the water. As much of its body as I could see was exactly like the little jellyfish you see everywhere, between an inch and six inches in diameter. This one was huge! It was easily over twelve feet in diameter.

It was the most humongous jellyfish in the world!

The bell was like a section of a sphere, much less than a hemisphere, and ringed with tentacles not quite as long as the diameter of the body. Inside were other organs that hung down below the bell just slightly longer at the center than the tentacles. Somewhere within the bell were four iridescent circles set at odd angles to the body, the most visible feature of the whole animal. These iridescent circles were each about two feet in diameter.

It was the most humongous jellyfish in the world!

The ship was going quite slowly, and the water was as clear as could be, but due to the darkness, we only got a glimpse of the jellyfish for a couple of seconds. That was just enough to get a rough idea of its size and to know that it was utterly gigantic.

It was the most humongous jellyfish in the world!

Epilogue: The story here in its written form is factual and accurate. The jellyfish appeared to be about twelve feet in diameter. However, in the oral tradition of the "Sea Story," it grows a little bit larger with each telling. I believe the last time I told this story over beers around the campfire, the two villages built on top of the jellyfish had resolved their territorial dispute and were working on the construction of a small airstrip and rustic tourist hotel.

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Copyright © 2007, Charles J. Bonner, All Rights Reserved