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BELLA VISTA -- Every now and then a species that even scientists find weird appears in an area lake. This summer Lake Brittany has been home to small, freshwater jellyfish.

After a recent Bella Vista Flytyers meeting, several members were polled, but no one had heard of or seen a freshwater jellyfish. The flytyers seemed to think it was a big fish tale, but it's true.

"They show up every few years," lake biologist Darrell Bowman said in a phone interview. "They're in the lake for maybe one summer or even just a couple of months."

They don't appear to be harmful either to the environment or to humans. But, he added, no one has really studied the effects of freshwater jellyfish on the ecosystem of a manmade lake.

People assume that any jellyfish will sting, Bowman said, but the freshwater variety are probably too small to hurt a human.

According to information on the U.S. Geological Survey website, "Freshwater jellyfish is not considered dangerous to humans. Although its stings can paralyze macroinvertebrates and small fish, its small nematocysts are not likely to penetrate human skin."

The jellyfish is originally from China and were probably introduced by way of ornamental water plants, the website explains. They have been found throughout most of the United States. They are most often found in slow-moving or stagnant water.

An Arkansas Game and Fish brochure explains that the species begins as an anemone-like polyp stage and sometimes remains in that stage. When conditions are right, the polyps blossom into a free swimming medusa. Since the blossom depends on specific conditions, a lake like Brittany can go for several years without any visible jellyfish .

Bowman caught one of the jellyfish in 2009 and got a photo. It wasn't easy, he remembered. The creatures are small and almost transparent.

Sports on 10/06/2015

Print Headline: Jellyfish found in Lake Brittany

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