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The stinging sea nettle (Chrysaora) is a genus of particularly large true sea jellies (Scyphozoans).
The name may refer to the Atlantic sea nettle or East Coast sea nettle (Chrysaora quinquecirrha), a species of sea nettle that inhabits particularly Atlantic estuaries.
The name sea nettle may also refer to the Pacific sea nettle or West Coast sea nettle (Chrysaora fuscescens) (pictured to the right), another related species that is endemic to the Northeast Pacific Ocean. It is a common coastal species found along the west coast of North America from California to Alaska.
The Atlantic sea nettle is a bell-shaped invertebrate, usually semi-transparent and with small, white dots and reddish-brown stripes. Sea nettles without stripes have a bell that appears white or opaque. The nettle's sting is rated from "moderate" to "severe" and can be pernicious to smaller prey; it is not, however, potent enough to cause human death, except by allergic reaction. While the sting is not particularly harmful, it can cause moderate discomfort to any individual stung. The sting can be effectively neutralized by misting vinegar over the affected area. This keeps unfired nematocysts from firing and adding to the discomfort.
The sea nettle is radially symmetrical, marine, and carnivorous. Its mouth is located at the center of one end of the body, which opens to a gastrovascular cavity that is used for digestion. It has tentacles that surround the mouth to capture food. Nettles have no excretory or respiratory organs. Each sea nettle is free-swimming and can reproduce both sexually and asexually.
Stinging sea nettles are carnivorous. They generally feed on zooplankton, ctenophores, other jellies, and sometimes crustaceans. Nettles immobilize and obtain their prey using their stinging tentacles. After that, the prey is transported to the gastrovascular cavity where it is subsequently digested.
Nettles also eat young minnows, bay anchovy eggs, worms, and mosquito larvae.
Each nettle tentacle is coated with thousands of microscopic nematocysts; in turn, every individual nematocyst has a "trigger" (cnidocil) paired with a capsule containing a coiled stinging filament. Upon contact, the cnidocil will immediately initiate a process which ejects the venom-coated filament from its capsule and into the target. This will inject toxins capable of killing smaller prey or stunning perceived predators. On humans, this will most likely cause a nonlethal, but nevertheless painful rash typically persisting for about 20 minutes. Some earlier cases of nettle stings from the Philippines reportedly had more severe effects: one account describes a sting causing vascular insufficiency, and another mononeuritis.