Les méduses…Jellyfish in France

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Oh they move so beautifully, pulsating through the water with their tentacles trailing gracefully behind. They’ve roamed our seas and oceans for over 500 million years, perhaps longer. I’ve got a little story about my encounter with jellyfish, which I shall tell you shortly.

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I was entranced by these guys, or they could have been girls as jellyfish can be either male or female or even hermaphrodite, at the Musée de la Mer Aquarium in Biarritz.

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Two summers ago we visited Labenne Ocean, on the south west coast of France. After a particularly stormy night the sun came out and we headed to the beach to discover scores of people standing by the waters edge. In the ocean and scattered along the beach were blooms upon blooms of jellyfish. The lifeguards were advising people to stay out of the water, only a fool would go in.

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“Lets go further up the coast,” suggested my friend.

We headed up to La Pointe, just a little further up the coast. The beach was busy, it was hot, there were people in the water and just a few jellyfish dotting the shoreline.

“Come on in,” said my friend. I weighed it up, there were people in the water, there were jellyfish on the sand. We’d just seen masses of stinging things.

“Its okay I’ll stay here,” I said.

“Come onnnn,” beckoned my friend.

It was hot, the water looked inviting. There were young couples happily frolicking in the water, albeit in the cool way only the French teens can do. I waded in.

I waded in and within minutes it felt like a piece of barbed wire had wrapped itself around my foot. I screamed. My friend, turned and laughed. He thought I was joking.

“Jellyfish,” I shouted.

Everyone else turned. My friend came splashing over. Back on the beach I discovered the remains of three long tentacles stuck to my foot. My friend peeled them off, leaving three long unsightly looking blisters across my foot.

“You’re going to have to wee on my foot,” I said.

“Piss on your foot?!” he said.

Clearly this wasn’t the French way but he had no choice. The jellyfish departed within a few days but the burns stayed and scarred for months after. Later that week we saw a girl who had also braved the ocean that day, with four or five long tentacle shaped marks across her back. I only hope her friend needed the toilet.

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