Find out a little bit about the peculiar species that is the Upside Down Jellyfish!


I recently had the opportunity to visit the Nabq Protected Area, thanks in majority to my girlfriend’s birthday. It’s amazing how it only took me four years to visit a truly awesome place only 45 minutes away from Dahab. I’m sure a lot of you can relate to that; never visiting such amazing places even when they are right on your doorstep!

The feeling of isolation when you stand on the beach and see nothing but desert surrounding you is truly immense, even more so with the ubiquitous Sinai mountains forming a physical barrier in the distance. Of course my camera was coming with me on such a trip and despite not knowing exactly what subjects I would find, I managed a few decent shots.

The shot that you can see is of a Cassiopea Jellyfish, named quite appropriately if you are knowledgeable on the subject of Greek Mythology. It’s more common name is the Upside Down Jellyfish, because surprise, surprise, it lives most of its life upside down. These Jellyfish are actually incredibly interesting; not only can they be gonochoristic (male or female), but they can also be hermaphroditic and asexual. Talk about having your cake and eating it too! On top of their varied sex life they also share similarities with fire corals in the fact that they host the same type of zooxanthellae in their tissues. This gives them not only the ability to use photosynthesis to gain the energy to survive but also to give you some pretty nasty stings.

I found out just how irritating and copious the stings were first hand. It seems the worst thing you can do is swim in a mangrove; with fins on and in very shallow water over a bunch of these bad boys/girls/who knows?! The stinging cells get released in the form of mucus into the water column, where they can collect over large areas completely invisible to any unsuspecting swimmer. This of course is exactly what I did, the water may look deep, but in reality is only about 40-50 cm deep which meant that I was swimming in a dense cloud of stinging mucus. The rest of the day was spent popping my head up to see what was stinging me either on or above the surface, without realising the entire time the culprit was my subject.