Jellyfish are not everyone’s cup of tea. Some find these creatures vaguely repulsive, probably due their mushy and squashy physique. Some find them positively terrifying, a state of mind that seems to be in close correlation to having been stung by a jellyfish.
Still, everyone (or at least everyone who’s never been a sting victim) has to admit that there is certain grace to these dwellers of the planet’s seas, oceans and (more rarely) fresh waters. You may even agree with one photographer as he gushes about the beauty of jellyfish, calling them “a photographer’s delight” and comparing them to “the translucent dress of a bride in summer”.
Whichever camp you are on in the jellyfish debate, you will have to take your hat off to the South African Post office for their August 2015 issue honouring ten of the twenty or so species of jellyfish that call the oceans around South Africa a home.
These are the jellyfish featured:
Barrel jellyfish (Rhizostoma sp.) is often washed up on South African shores. It looks like a translucent white-blue bell and has no tentacles(those protrusions along the rim are really little arms with clubs at the end). The sting of this jellyfishis harmless. In the Far East, it is farmed and eaten.
Purple compass jellyfish (Chrysaora africana) has a shape that resembles a flattened hemisphere. Its sting may be mildly painful, but it won’t kill you. Purple compass jellyfish occur along the west coast of southern Africa, from South Africa to Gabon.
Box jellyfish type 1 (Chirodropus gorilla) also resides along the west coast of southern Africa, between South Africa and Gabon. It is a dweller of deeper waters and thus not often seen. If you do see it, give it a wide berth. Box jelly fish is closely related to a species that has a fatal sting.
Helmet jellyfish (Periphylla periphylla)is widespread and lives in oceans all around world. It is dark red or brown and has a conical bell with twelve solid tentacles extending from the bell margin. This deep-water species has a painful, but not fatal sting.
Pink meanie (Drymonema sp.)looks like a flat circular bell of a translucent, brown/pink colour. It has numerous tentacles with which it catches other jellyfish. Pink meanies prey on other jellyfish, entangling them in tentacles and then reeling their victims in and consuming them.
St Lucia jellyfish (Crambionella stuhlmanni) does not have tentacles. Its sting is harmless to humans. In South Africa this jellyfish is restricted to Lake St Lucia north of Durban, but it is also found off Mozambique and Madagascar.
Mauve stinger (Pelagia noctiluca) is a fist-size jellyfish with a transparent, pinkish bell with numerous warts on the surface. Its sting is painful, but not lethal. It used to be uncommon around South Africa, but is now regularly seen in False Bay. Mauve stinger gives off a blue light when disturbed or handled.
Box jellyfish type 2 (Carybdeabranchi) is also known as the South African box jellyfish. It has a transparent bell with warts on the outer surface. It is mainly found along the south-west coast of South Africa and is common in Cape Town harbour. The South African box jellyfish stings are known to be harmful, but not lethal.
Benguela compass jellyfish (Chrysaora fulgida) is a coastal species. Its orange-red bell resembles a flattened hemisphere. The sting of this jellyfish is mildly painful to some humans, but is not lethal. Benguela compass jellyfish is endemic to the Benguela ecosystem and extends along the west coast of Africa from southern Angola to South Africa.
Cape barrel jellyfish (Eupilema inexpectata) has a deeply hemispherical bell. This species is opaque and slightly granular to the touch. It has short, rigid arms around the mouth and no tentacles. It is harmless. Cape barrel jellyfish is confined to the south-western Cape and endemic to the region.
Basic data on Jellyfish in South African Waters stamp issue:
- Description: 10-stamp self-adhesive sheet
- Issue date: 12 August 2015.
- Individual stamp size: 41 x 31 mm
- Stamp design: Sheila Collins
These rainbow-coloured miniature works of art are something that topical stamp collectors will want to have in their albums. Find the jellyfish-themed stamps and other South African stamps on bidorbuy.
PS: In case you wandered about the letter B, we hurry to inform you that it signifies postal rate; specifically, B5 is for a medium envelope (250 x 176 mm, not exceeding 10 mm thickness), ordinary local postage. Since the rates change annually, Post Office can decide to print the rate on the stamp instead of the Rand value.