Damsels of Distress

September 23, 2020

Monterey, California


Blacksmith damselfish (Chromis punctipinnis) may be pretty, but behind the blue gloss is a plankton piranha... And this Pacific sea nettle (Chrysaora fuscescens) has drifted directly into the swarm.


The fish begin to circle, but they're apprehensive at first; the jelly carries a spicy sting in its tentacles. Then a damsel spots an opening and... CHOMP. The entire mob is launched into a frenzy, and fish descend on the drifter in a torrent of glistening scales. The nettle is helplessly spun around as the shoal nips and yanks at its oral arms, jockeying for a billowy bite.


Then suddenly, the attack stops. The piscine storm dissipates and the tattered jelly is released to pulse away into the canopy, a little worse for wear.


While the damselfish are ruthless, the jellies are also happy to zap fishy snacks themselves. It's a merciless fish-eat-jelly-eat-fish world under the sea.


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