In my 24 years of leading kayaking trips into the Elkhorn Slough, I have never seen the magnitude of sea jellies that I have witnessed over the last few days. These epic events occur during a “perfect storm”, a combination of conditions including temperature, currents, nutrients and prey availability. Like many jellies, the sea nettles Chrysaora fuscescens, lay dormant in a polyp stage (like a tiny sea anemone) until ideal conditions are met. When such environmental conditions occur, these tiny flattened polyps stacked on top of each other like dinner plates, are released in mass as the floating medusa form of its life cycle.

IMG_4505With the recent full moon cycle generating high tides, the sea nettles as drifters were pushed into Moss Landing Harbor and into the Elkhorn Slough. While sea nettles can pulsate to move through the still water, they are considered zooplankton, an animal that drifts with currents. As the pigmentation is diminished, 4 whitish clumps are revealed through the bell of the sea nettles. These clumps are the reproductive organs, gonads that will release egg and sperm into the water column. Afterwards the adult medusa stage then dies.

There is always something incredible to experience as we explore the Elkhorn Slough from the quiet perspective of a sea kayak. Hope you will join us at www.bluewaterventures.org