Massive ‘Pink Meanie’ Jellyfish Are Showing Up On The Gulf Coast
If you happen to be exploring the Gulf Coast from Alabama to Florida, you may want to keep your eyes open for the brightly-colored pink meanies.
Pink meanies (Drymonema larsoni) are a unique species of jellyfish that appear in the waters of the Gulf Coast every 10 years or so, and they’re quite fascinating to see considering they’re one of the largest jellies in the world.
In fact, according to Southern Living, pink meanies can grow up to 50 pounds and have tentacles that stretch up to 70 feet in length.
It seems the jellies flock to the Gulf Coast to feast on moon jellies, which are the pink meanies’ favorite food.
According to WPMI, Brain Jones with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab said, “In 2010 they found one out in the wild, a big pink meanie and brought it onto the boat, and they were able to pull out of its tentacles 22 moon jellies, and these moons were dinner plate size. So if they’re eating that many moons, they’re going to grow really quickly.”
Back in 2016, the FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute shared a photo of a pink meanie on Facebook. According to their post, a swimmer came across the pink meanie near Inlet Beach in northwest Florida.
“Large numbers of these jellyfish were first observed in the Gulf of Mexico in 2000, and since then the species has been sighted infrequently in Gulf waters. The moon jellyfish (Aurelia sp.) is a favorite prey item for the pink meanie, and studies have found that they will voraciously feed on large aggregations of moon jellyfish that periodically bloom in the Gulf. In fact, the pink meanie may be better adapted to feeding on moon jellyfish than all previously studied moon jellyfish predators.”
Pink meanies were first named by Keith Bayha around 20 years ago. In a 2022 news release from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Bayha said:
“Pink meanies first started showing up in the northern Gulf of Mexico in the early 2000s and were recorded by Monty Graham at DISL. Dr. Graham sent me samples for DNA analysis when I was a graduate student at the University of Delaware. I tried to use them for a study I was doing on the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish, whose family the pink meanie previously belonged to, but they were too different.”
If you happen to see a pink meanie in the wild, you can enjoy its beautiful colors but try not to get too close. Like many jellyfish, pink meanies have long tentacles that sting.Whizzco