If you study toxic jellyfish for a living, you know how to take safety precautions. You dive into the ocean covered in protective gear and know to avoid the venom-laced tentacles.But there was one painful jellyfish encounter that always caught marine biologist Cheryl Ames by surprise. The Tohoku University-based researcher found that if she swam over the upside-down jellyfish — a species that does headstands on seagrass or mangrove forest floors — she’d start to feel a tingling, irritating sensation. “The longer you’re exposed to it, it progresses to, ‘OK, this is really uncomfortable’ and, ‘It’s time to get out of the water,’” she says. Ames asked other marine biologists if they had experienced anything similar. They had — and with it, also observed a snotlike substance hovering above the jellies that appeared to be the source of the burn. So Ames and her two summer interns looked into the stinging mucus, just for kicks. When the team slid some of the goo under…



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