Jellyfish are being caught in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and being shipped over to Asia as a dining delicacy.
We all know jellyfish as those gelatinous blobs the lay on the water while you are swimming or land up on the beach where you walk. They are a nuisance to beach goers, swimmers and fisherman. If you get too close to the tentacles in the water or walk on one on the beach it can land a powerful and, sometimes deadly, sting. To the fishermen trying to make their living on the water, they clog up their nets.
To the fishermen along the Gulf Coast where they are plentiful during the season, enough is enough already. In the Gulf waters along the coast of Georgia, the fishermen catch the jelly fish in great numbers and have made a business of exporting them to Asia. The jellyfish are dried, preserved and packaged in the States then sold to a seafood distributor that ships them to Japan, China, and Thailand. There, dried jellyfish are a delicacy, used in soups and salads. Dried jellyfish has a crunchy taste, what the people of Asia like. Some say it’s salty and tastes like the gristle of a chicken bone.
These jellyfish are commonly known as jelly balls by the fisherman. These jelly balls are actually cannonball jellyfish and are found in the warm coastal water of the southeastern United States. They’re seasonal – starting to appear in late winter and continue through June and July when shrimping season starts to take over. These jelly balls are abundant in number and look like floating mushrooms. Most are the size of a grapefruit while others as large as a basketball. Their tentacles are smaller than most jellyfish and cannonballs do not sting.
Jelly ball fishing is Georgia’s third largest commercial fishery, shrimp and crabs being the top two respectively. Although there seems to be an unlimited supply of jelly balls and a high demand for dried jellyfish, there is only one jellyfish processor and exporter at this time.