Video Captures First-Ever Footage of Jellyfish Sting Through Microscope

Zain Meghji
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You've heard of a jellyfish sting, maybe you've even experienced one. But have you ever seen one?

When a jellyfish actually stings someone or something, the action is often too small and too fast to see with the naked eye. This video, however, captures a real-life sting in slow motion!

Destin from SmarterEveryDay visited toxinologist Dr. Jamie Seymour, one of the team members present when Steve Irwin, "The Crocodile Hunter," was fatally stung by a stingray in 2006.

At James Cook University in Australia, researchers used a microscope and high-speed camera to discover what exactly happens when a jellyfish, or in this specific case, an anemone, stings you. They have wanted to capture the process on camera for years, but only now has the technology been able to do so.

Instead of thinking it's just tentacles dragging across your skin and leaving venom behind, what actually happens it that an organelle (a  specific subunit within a cell with a special function) called a nematocyst takes the venom and shoves it into you. Think of if like a garden hose that is lax until water comes through. In this case, the nematocyst is limp until venom comes through, making it rigid.

While it's still not exactly clear what causes the nematocysts to fire, in this study, the researchers use two 9 volt batteries to randomly trigger the reaction in the anemone so they could record it.

An interesting thing that these guys discovered is the slight delay between when the nematocyst fires and when the venom actually comes out.

And if you're really into this and happen to want to study why the box jellyfish is the most venomous animal in the world, the folks at James Cook University want you to know that they are looking for undergrad and graduate students to join its program.

What was the most fascinating thing that you learned from this video? Let us know in the comments below.