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Scientists Capture Jellyfish Sting in Slow-Motion [VIDEO]

Aug 18, 2014 08:12 PM EDT

If you're afraid of being stung by a jellyfish, you may not want to watch the latest viral video depicting the venomous creatures. Scientists at James Cook University have captured on film a jellyfish sting in action in super slow motion.

Using a high-speed camera, the Australian scientists caught for the first time ever microscopic footage of the stinging process, which involves tiny, venom-filled barbs penetrating your skin. The video is now sweeping across the YouTube channel SmarterEveryDay, with over 800,000 hits so far.

According to UPI, most people assume a jellyfish sting is an allergic reaction to an irritant on the surface of the creature's tentacles. However, it's actually caused by microscopic cells that, like a syringe, puncture the surface of the skin and almost instantaneously inject venom before retracting.

It involves small barbs on the jellyfishes' tentacles called nematocysts that stab the victim as it brushes by, Time Magazine reports.

"We've never seen that before," marine biologist Dr. James Seymour, of James Cook University, told UPI upon observing the delay between when the needles were deployed and the venom was injected. Though it doesn't seem like much of a delay - the entire stringing process happens within 11 milliseconds.

"We've seen venom come out the end of these things, [but] we've never seen that delay [between deployment and injection] - but we've never looked for it... This is the sort of stuff I get up in the morning for... It's the joy of actually coming in and going 'I just saw something that nobody else in the world has ever seen before,'" Seymour explained.

For this experiment, Seymour used the infamous box jellyfish, known for its powerful venom that can instantly stun or kill its prey, like fish and shrimp, according to National Geographic.

"Their venom is considered to be among the most deadly in the world, containing toxins that attack the heart, nervous system, and skin cells," the website wrote.

Some humans have even gone into shock and drown, or suffered from heart failure before even reaching shore after an encounter with these pale blue, venomous creatures.

Box jellies, also called sea wasps or marine stingers, live primarily in coastal waters off Northern Australia and throughout the Indo-Pacific. They can have up to 15 tentacles, each around 10 feet (3 meters) long, and each containing about 5,000 stinging cells.

[Credit: SmarterEveryDay]

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