I swam in Mediterranean in Italy quite often. There often were white (not spectacular looking) jellyfish around - and quite a lot of them. I tried not to touch them because I was afraid to get burned (even though I don't think that this species stings) and that I'll harm these animals.

However, I am a little surprised that I've managed to never get in contact with one. You can't see them quite good and there a really a lot of them sometimes. Do they actively try to avoid contact?

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    You may have touched a tentacle and not felt it if it's a species that doesn't sting. I know from painful experience that there are stinging species in the med. The tentacles are soft and have the same density as water. If would make sense for a jellyfish to avoid a big solid thing approaching its body, as you might be a predator. This doesn't require much thinking - insects can do it.
    – Chris H
    Aug 9 '16 at 11:47
  • By experience I can tell you they dont care about avoiding anyone. Aug 12 '16 at 14:15

Jellyfish, while mobile, are not capable of much evasion. They can steer their bodies, but they are limited in their ability to get out of the way of a faster organism - which is why the majority rely on their stinging tentacles, and migration up to the surface and back down to follow food.

One thing many jellyfish can do to avoid damage to themselves when they encounter a large animal (I.e. Too big to be prey) is to retract their tentacles and avoid stinging.

So it is possible that you just weren't stung - or in fact that they weren't stinging jellyfish.

As kids, we used to sail through vast shoals of jellyfish, and most of the ones around my home do not sting, so we used to catch them by hand and release them with no worry of getting hurt.

  • I've paddled a canoe through a shoal of jelly fish, they certainly weren't trying to move out of the way of my paddle, I was scooping them out of the water with each stroke.
    – ShemSeger
    Aug 9 '16 at 15:39

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