Rare ‘Pink Meanie’ Jellyfish With 70-Foot Tentacles Take Over Florida’s Emerald Coast

by Craig Garrett
Rare species of jellyfish "Pink Meanie" - stock photo

Beachgoers beware! An influx of jellyfish has brought an abundance of rare pink meanies to Florida’s Emerald Coast. For 46 days, the quarantine zone has been marked by purple flags. These flags notify people that hazardous marine life has been sighted. More than 100 stings have been reported in the previous 40 days, according to WEAR-TV.

The huge pink jellyfish has tentacles up to 70 feet long. It was discovered in the Gulf of Mexico in 2000. It was believed to be native to the Mediterranean. However, scientists determined that the Gulf form was a distinct species in 2011. The name comes from the fact that it is a nasty beast. It attacks and feeds on other jellyfish, such as the moon jellyfish, eating up to 34 at once. In the Gulf waters, they have been documented to be rather rare.

“The jellyfish species is considered generally not dangerous to humans, but if you get stung it will likely be painful,” WEAR-TV explained. On average, pink meanies weigh 30 to 50 pounds and can be classified by their bell width of 30-36 inches and bell height of 22-27.2 inches. You’re most likely to encounter one when blooms of jellyfish are abundant.

More about the ‘Pink Meanie’ Jellyfish

according to AL.com

In 2000, after much deliberation, scientists agreed that the creature seen in the Gulf was a jellyfish from the Mediterranean. Scientists have discovered that the Gulf version of the pink meanie is a unique species using genetic fingerprinting and other techniques. Even more importantly, the pink meanie and its Mediterranean cousin represent an entirely new family of jellyfish – this is the first time a new family of jellyfish has been identified since 1921.

Pink Meanies are predators that feast on other jellyfish. Their tentacles can be up to 70 feet long, and they use them to ensnare their prey. Once entangled, the Pink Meanie will reel its victim in and consume it whole. There have been documented cases of Pink Meanies consuming 34 jellyfish at a time.

The Press-Register documented one animal on Dauphin Island that was nearly 3 feet wide and weighed over 50 pounds. Scientists at the time believed that this creature was of the Mediterranean species. Sea Lab scientist Keith Bayha had a “Eureka!” moment when he realized the Gulf species was unique during a walk along a Turkish beach.

Back when he was still a graduate student, he visited a friend who lived in a small fishing village in Turkey. That’s when he saw a giant jellyfish floating in the water and decided to capture it so he could bring it home with him. “That turned out to be the first one anyone had seen in the Mediterranean in 20 or 30 years. These guys are just really rare everywhere except here,” Bayha recalled.