Comb Jellies Wash Ashore on Dauphin Island

My cousin, Amanda, shares my love of exploring the beauty of nature here on the Alabama Gulf Coast. The first two weekends of September 2022, we had the opportunity to visit the Dauphin Island Audubon Bird Sanctuary which encompasses 164 acres of maritime pine forests, a natural freshwater lake with resident gators and a boardwalk across the dunes to the sandy gulf-side beaches of the island.

Dauphin Island Marine Pines on the sandy dunes.

Our Labor Day visit did not include a walk on the beach, but we did get to the shore on our 2nd visit September 10th where we encountered gentle waves washing over a multitude of jellies.

Dauphin Island Audubon Bird Sanctuary beach littered with shell fragments and comb jellies September 10, 2022.

Amanda is the more adventurous of the two of us, and she quickly reported that they didn’t sting. I’ve visited Dauphin Island often at all times of the year but had never seen this type of jellyfish onshore before, so I did some internet research when I got home. I believe these were what are known as comb jellies, which are in the phylum Ctenophores. Unlike sea nettles that belong to the phylum Cnidaria, comb jellies do not have stinging cells.

One of the most interesting things about comb jellies is that they have bioluminescent characteristics. I would have loved to have gone back after dark to see if the waves were glowing, but my schedule this week just didn’t permit it. I do remember seeing jellyfish in a tank at the Alabama Aquarium a few years back when I took a class on a field trip. They were luminescent if I recall correctly.

Below are links to three sites that have a good bit of reliable information about comb jellies if you are interested in finding out more.

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