YES! There are Freshwater Jellyfish In The Great Lakes and Michigan
I thought I knew a lot about nature and science. I practically live on the Discover, History, and Animal Planet channels when I'm not watching sports. So to say I love learning about nature and animals is a bit of an understatement.
So how, in 37 years of living, am I just now finding out there are freshwater jellyfish that exist, AND they're in the Great Lakes (and other lakes) in Michigan?
I ran across a story from Fox 2 in Detroit about a Jellyfish Discovery at Island Lake Recreation Area pond near Brighton.
"While it might feel like the only place someone in Michigan could see the alien-like organisms is at an aquarium, jellyfish now frequent local inland lakes. Fox 2 Photo Journalist Coulter Mitchell found some floating on the surface of Spring Mill Pond, near Brighton."
And not just at Sea Life Michigan Aquarium in Detroit... like, they LIVE in Lakes and ponds in Michigan?
I thought jellyfish were saltwater creatures? Naturally, my ADHD brain had to learn more about this, so I dug deeper, and here's what I found... Jellyfish were actually discovered in the Great Lakes in 1933 by observers in both Michigan and Ohio. They are literally called "Freshwater Jellyfish," aka Craspedacusta Sowerbii.
Over the past 90s years, they've been spotted in lakes and ponds around the Great Lakes... and then, of course, spread across the country.
Oh, did I forget to mention, they're an invasive species? Yep. Shouldn't be here. They're originally from the Yangtze River basin in China, and they're on literally every continent except Antarctica.
But these guys are really small - about the size of a penny, some up to the size of a quarter, and eat mostly very small plankton. They DO have stingers they use to paralyze their food, but they're so small, there's no worry about their stingers hurting humans.
So if someone comes out of Lake Michigan and says they were stung by a jellyfish and you have to pee on them... they're lying. Run away.
Normally, jellyfish are found in warmer waters, so their appearance in the cold Great Lakes is curious, but not unheard of. In fact, they've adapted to survive, and during cold winter months, the eggs, or polyps, contract, and enter dormancy. And THIS is where scientists believe they become invasive, as they attach themselves to vegetation, animals, and boats, whicha are then transported to other bodies of water.
Once conditions become warmer and more favorable, they retract and hatch into jellyfish.
So yeah, my mind is blown. Freshwater jellyfish exist, and they're EVERYWHERE. Have you seen them?