Sunday, 18 June 2006

The Wild West

Today a friend of ours was baptised. Being a tramping, outdoorsy kind of guy he wanted to get baptised in the Piha Stream out on the west coast near Auckland. Great idea, but today turned out to be windy, wet and cold. Thus twenty-odd of us ended up trudging along a muddy, boggy track in the rain for half an hour to get to the ideal spot. Actually, since we were dressed well, it was a lot of fun! I'm glad we had a good excuse to do something crazy like that :-).

On the way there, we stopped at Piha beach. The wind was blowing in hard at high tide and I've never seen it so wild. The surf was roaring, with waves and white foam running hundreds of metres offshore. Waves were hitting the rocks hard, throwing up towering plumes of spray. It was utterly awesome in the best sense of the word.

Piha Surf

On the beach there were a lot of very strange blue organisms that I'm pretty sure I've never seen before. They looked a lot like little blue water balloons with a stringy organic appendage. Furthermore they felt just like balloons --- the same feeling when squeezed, the same immediate return to their original shape when released, as if containing water or air under pressure. And when I stepped on one, it popped loudly. I'm not even sure if these were plants, or perhaps some variety of anenome or jellyfish, although part of them looked like it might once have been attached to the sea floor. Perhaps they contained water under pressure because they live fairly deep, and the storm happened to wash them up. Whatever they were, it was quite remarkable.

Piha Surf


15 comments:

  1. That looks a little like a tiny, upside-down "Portuguese Man of War".

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  2. They are some kind of Jellyfish, yes. They contain air, to keep them floating on the ocean, grabbing and eating fish as fellyfishes do (actually, they are a colony, not a single organism, pretty nifty things). This is them on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_Man_o%27_War

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  3. Those are Blue Bottle Jellyfish - http://www.newzealandfauna.com/bluebottlejellyfish.php
    I'm surprised as a New Zealander you've never come across them before, although it could be geography thing. It is not unusual to see them around the Wairarapa coast.

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  4. Whoa, that thing's so freaky it brought me out of lurkdom! It looks exactly like a Portuguese Man O'War, which is a colony of polyps often confused with jellyfish. Those give a pretty nasty sting, though. So either it's something else, it was dead so long that the tentacles were no longer dangerous, or it was so little that it hadn't developed stinging potency yet.

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  5. I would bet that is a Blue Bottle Jelly fish, [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physalia] you are lucky picking it up that you did not get stung. We see them on the beaches in Australia sometimes.

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  6. Robert O'Callahan18 June 2006 19:46

    Thanks for the ID!
    I deliberately didn't touch the stringy bit, just in case it was a stinging jellyfish. Just as well!
    I have seen a lot of jellyfish over the years, but not these. Yay for the benign waters of the Hauraki Gulf, I guess :-).

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  7. How many of the mozilla programmer are christian?
    Dominic Shiells

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  8. Robert O'Callahan20 June 2006 23:48

    I don't know.

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  9. we get the blue bottle jellyfish on the east coast around whangamata with the correct conditions.
    i think the sting from the australian version is quite a bit more painful.

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  10. Hey I just got back from the beach and we seen some jellyfish that looked just like these pictures, but are there other jellyfish that look identical to the man-of-war but are not as dangerous? I was just wondering because i was out on the beach picking them up and one of them stung my finger but it just felt like a regular jellyfish sting, nothing intense and hard to bear. write me back
    yours truly,
    confused

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  11. its a portuguese man-of-war duh he is so lucky that he didnrt get stung!!

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  12. I got stung by one of those last week at Kino Bay, Mexico. A huge storm blew them in. I'm glad you didn't get stung. The Portuguese Man-O-War is one of the most painful stings of Jellyfish like things. (It isn't actually a jellyfish.)

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  13. I'm surprised as a New Zealander you've never come across them before, although it could be geography thing.

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  14. That is a deadly Portuguese Man of War. If it stings you, you will experience the most painful experience you have ever had. Please read this - http://members.iconn.net/~marlae/manofwar/encounters_keng1.htm

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  15. i got stung by one

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