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Tarlac Christian College

5085, Buno, Matatalaib

Tarlac City, Tarlac

Box Jellyfish

Submitted to: Mrs. Angie Icban-Flores

Professor, General Biology

Submitted by: Jemimah Matamis

Student, BSA-1

What is a box jellyfish?

"Box jellyfish" or "sea wasp" is also a common name for the notoriously
dangerous Australian box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri). The ambiguous but commonly
used terms "sea wasp" and "marine stinger" are sometimes used to refer to the
more venomous species of box jellyfish. Box jellyfish are known as the
"suckerpunch" of the sea not only because their sting is rarely detected until the
venom is injected, but also because they are almost transparent. Their toxicity
varies among species and ranges from being completely harmless to humans to
causing death within minutes after a sting.

Box jellies are pale blue and transparent in color, which makes them pretty
much invisible in the water. So much so that for years nobody knew what was
causing swimmers such excruciating pain, and sometimes killed them. Up to 15
tentacles grow from each corner of the bell. Each tentacle has about 5,000 stinging
cells (nematocysts), which are activated by contact with certain chemicals on the
surface of fish, shellfish or humans. The underside of the umbrella includes a flap, or
velarium, concentrating and increasing the flow of water expelled from the
umbrella. As a result, box jellyfish can move more rapidly than other jellyfish. It
propels itself forward in a jet like motion and in fact, speeds of up to six metres per
minute have been recorded. (True jellyfish in contrast rather drift.) A fully grown box
jellyfish has a respectable size: it can reach 10 feet (3 meters) in length, and its
weight can reach 2 kg.

These animals are members of Cubozoa, the smallest class of Cnidaria,

animals ranging from sea anemones and corals to Portuguese man of war and true
jellyfish, all of which possess stinging capsules known as nematocysts. The
Australian box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri), the largest box jellyfish species, is
considered the most venomous marine animal and its sting can be fatal. Its close
relative, Chironex yamaguchii, has caused deaths in Japan and the Philippines.
How does it differ from other jellyfish?

Box jellyfish most visibly differ from the "true" or Scyphozoan jellyfish in that
their umbrellas are cubic, rather than domed or crown-shaped. The bell or cube
shaped jellyfish has four distinct sides, hence the box in the name. Box jellies are
highly advanced among jellyfish. They have developed the ability to move rather
than just drift. They also have eyes grouped in clusters of six on the four sides of
their bell. Each cluster includes a pair of eyes with a sophisticated lens, retina, iris
and cornea, although without a central nervous system (brain), scientists arent
sure how they process what they see.
The box jellyfish's nervous system is also more developed than that of many
other jellyfish. Notably, they possess a nerve ring around the base of the umbrella
that coordinates their pulsing movements; a feature found elsewhere only in the
crown jellyfish. Whereas some other jellyfish do have simple pigment-cup ocelli, box
jellyfish are unique in the possession of true eyes, complete with retinas, corneas
and lenses. Their eyes are located on each of the four sides of their bell in clusters.
These enable them to see specific points of light, as opposed to simply
distinguishing between light and the dark. Box jellies also retain the lesser type of
eye, because the strong eyes are only one of four subsets.

Where is their location or distribution?

Box jellies live primarily in warm coastal waters around the world. They are
particularly well known in Australia, the Philippines and the rest of Southeast Asia,
but they also occur in Hawaii and in waters off the United States Gulf and East
Coasts. They live primarily in coastal waters off Northern Australia and throughout
the Indo-Pacific. Although the notoriously dangerous species of box jellies are
largely, or entirely, restricted to the tropical Indo-Pacific, various species of box
jellies can be found widely in tropical and subtropical oceans, including the Atlantic
and east Pacific, with species as far north as California, the Mediterranean (e.g.,
Carybdea marsupialis)[3] and Japan (e.g., Chironex yamaguchii),[4] and as far south
as South Africa (e.g., Carybdea branchi)[5] and New Zealand (e.g., Carybdea

What are their Habitat, Life Cycle and Food?

Box Jellyfish like to hang around river mouths, estuaries and creeks, especially
after rain. When the tide is rising they tend to move towards shallower waters. What
they don't like are deep waters and rough seas. They are also absent over coral
reefs, and over areas that have lots of sea grass or weed.

In late summer, the adult jellyfish spawn at the river mouths. The eggs, once
fertilized, turn into tiny polyps that attach themselves to rocks where they develop
until next spring. Spring sees the polyps turn into tiny jellyfish that are washed
downstream with the summer rains.
Box Jellyfish eat small fish and crustaceans. If you picture a tiny jellyfish struggling
with a shrimp you may imagine how easy it would be for the shrimp to tear the
jellyfish. That's why the jellyfish developed that very potent venom needed to kill
the shrimp instantly.

The Box Jellyfish Season:

The general rule says wet season is stinger season, and that's from
October/November to April/May. The largest specimen is usually found towards the
end of the season, but for no particular reason in some years there may be large
specimen in some locations early in the season. You also can't count on the season
ending in April/May. Especially in the southern parts you may encounter stingers
well into June.


Box jellyfish can see. They have clusters of eyes on each side of the box.
Some of those eyes are surprisingly sophisticated, with a lens and cornea, an iris
that can contract in bright light, and a retina. Their speed and vision leads some
researchers to believe that box jellyfish actively hunt their prey; others insist they
are passive opportunists, meaning they just hang around and wait for prey to bump
into their tentacles. They certainly are very good at avoiding even tiny objects and
probably at least try to avoid humans, too.

Box jellyfish might have 24 eyes but new research says they only use a few
of them to avoid collisions. Each jellyfish has two sets of camera-type eyes with fish-
like lenses, called the upper and lower lens eyes. The researchers say the lower
lenses help them avoid obstacles, after observing the animals didn't respond to
objects above the water's surface. They say the lower lenses can pick up changes in
light intensity, and the greater this so-called intensity contrast, the better the
jellyfish is at avoiding objects.

Sting, Venom, and Treatment:

Once a tentacle of the box jellyfish adheres to skin, it pumps nematocysts

with venom into the skin, causing the sting and agonizing pain. Successful use of
Chironex anti-venom disables the box jelly's nematocysts that have not yet
discharged into the bloodstream (though it will not alleviate the pain). Common
practice is to apply generous amounts of vinegar prior to and after the stinging
tentacle is removed. Removal of additional tentacles is usually done with a towel or
gloved hand, to prevent secondary stinging. Tentacles will still sting if separated
from the bell, or if the creature is dead. Removal of tentacles without prior
application of vinegar may cause unfired nematocysts to come into contact with the
skin and fire, resulting in a greater degree of poison.
Although commonly recommended in some papers on sting treatment, there
is no scientific evidence that urine, ammonia, meat tenderizer, sodium bicarbonate,
boric acid, lemon juice, freshwater, steroid cream, alcohol, cold packs, papaya, or
hydrogen peroxide will disable further stinging, and these substances may even
hasten the release of venom. Pressure immobilization bandages, methylated spirits,
or vodka should never be used for jelly stings. Often in severe Chironex fleckeri
stings, cardiac arrest occurs quickly, so cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be
life saving and takes priority over all other treatment options.

Box jellyfish venom is very different from the venom of the true jellyfish. Their
venom is considered to be among the most deadly in the world, containing toxins
that attack the heart, nervous system, and skin cells. It is so overpoweringly painful,
human victims have been known to go into shock and drown or die of heart failure
before even reaching shore. Survivors can experience considerable pain for weeks
and often have significant scarring where the tentacles made contact.

The severity of a sting depends on the size of the box jellyfish, the amount of
tentacles involved, the size of the victim (children are obviously more vulnerable),
but also on the sensitivity of the skin of the victim. It depends where the tentacles
touched (across the chest is obviously a lot more dangerous than on the ankle), and
how much venom was released. Usually the most important thing to do first is to
inactivate the remaining stinging cells. This should be done by pouring normal
vinegar over the tentacles (soak for at least 30 seconds). Only then can the
tentacles be removed, otherwise you will cause more venom to be released.

In mild cases the effects of the venom can be managed with ice, painkillers
and antihistamines. More serious cases will likely require treatment of the systemic
symptoms, and that means antivenin. All ambulances, hospitals and medical
centres in box jellyfish areas will carry the antivenin, as in serious cases it needs to
be given within minutes! Early administration of the antivenom can relieve the pain
and may also reduce scarring.

The need for anti-venom is indicated by cardio-respiratory arrest (obviously,

but then it's often too late to reverse the effects of the venom), irregular heartbeat,
difficulty breathing or swallowing and by extensive skin damage (which indicates
the release of a great amount of venom)
Scientific classification:
Kingdom : Animalia Phylum: Cnidaria Class: Cubozoa

Fast Facts
Type: Invertebrate
Diet: Carnivore
Average life span in the wild: Less than 1 year
Size: 10 ft (3 m) long; 10 in (25 cm) across
Weight: Up to 4.4 lbs (2 kg)
Did you know?
Sea turtles are unaffected by the sting of the box jellyfish and regularly eat
Scientific classification:
Kingdom : Animalia Phylum: Cnidaria Class: Cubozoa

Fast Facts
Type: Invertebrate
Diet: Carnivore
Average life span in the wild: Less than 1 year
Size: 10 ft (3 m) long; 10 in (25 cm) across
Weight: Up to 4.4 lbs (2 kg)
Did you know?
Sea turtles are unaffected by the sting of the box jellyfish and regularly eat