What is a "Pink Meanie" and Why Are They On Alabama Beaches?

April Killian

Pink is the color of love. Most people associate the color pink with being soft, feminine...even sweet. It's one of my favorite colors. I have two daughters - so, there's a lot of pink in my world! When I heard a new term today, "Pink Meanie," it took me aback a little. What the heck is a "Pink Meanie?" My first thought: it sounds like one of those girls we all hated in high school. The kind that looked so sweet and innocent but could turn and sting like a hornet! Turns out that the actual "Pink Meanie" can sting, too...and suddenly theres a whole bunch of Pink Meanies along our Alabama Beaches. Has the Alabama coast been taken over by a bunch of sassy cruel teenage girls? Not quite. It looks like we have a new guest on our coast - courtesy of Hurricane Ian. Here's everything you need to know about the Pink Meanies. 

Free Food!
Pink Meanie is the nickname of the jellyfish Drymonema Larsoni. It caught a lot of attention in the Gulf of Mexico in the year 2000. Prior to that, only a very few had ever been seen in the Gulf - but that year, a huge number suddenly popped up. Why the sudden huge numbers in 2000? Because Pink Meanies love to eat a smaller species of jellyfish native to the Gulf known as Moon Jellies. In 2000, there was a huge "bloom" or population explosion of Moon Jellies in the Gulf. The Pink Meanies, in turn, showed up in huge numbers for the free buffet. 

Surprise, Surprise!
At first scientists thought the new jellyfish that showed up in record numbers in the Gulf in 2000 were the same as the pink jellyfish found in the Mediterrain and parts of the Caribbean. Keith Bayha, a Dauphin Island Sea Lab biologist began seeing clues that they might be different, however. It took 10 years, but Bayha was finally able to prove that the Pink Meanie in the Gulf of Mexico was a unique species. With it's relation to the other pink jellyfish already known to science,  he was able document a whole new family of jellyfish  - the first since 1921. The pink meanie had surprised the world of science! 

Why Now?
After the big numbers seen in 2000 died down, the Pink Meanie dove back into relative obscurity. Experts say that although they are in the Gulf of Mexico all the time, they're usually found away from the beach ..until now. Since Hurricane Ian hit the Gulf of Mexico last week, Alabamians have been seeing these odd looking pink blobs washed up all along the shoreline. People have posted photos to social media with captions such as "What hath hell wrought now?" Some of the pink meanies, after all, get huge!

Pink Meanie Jellyfish On BeachAlena Mitchell

How Big Do They Get And Will They Hurt Me??
Pink meanies have been known to grow up to three feet wide or more at their main body or "bowl" and have tentacles up to 100 feet long! That's because they're predators and they use their extreme size to capture smaller jellyfish. They cover a wide area and tangle up jellyfish such as the moon jelly in their tentacles then take their time devouring them later. Wow, they really are meanies! Dont panic, though - experts say that although they're bigger and scarier looking, their sting is not nearly as bad as other jellyfish. Whereas the sting of some jellyfish can be excruciatingly painful, the sting of the Pink Meanie is said to be more like a minor insect sting - maybe a bee sting at worst. Still, I'll pass and avoid them at all costs! 

Pink Meanie Jellyfish SizeFantastic Offense (Dimensions.com)

Just Passing Through!
Biologists familiar with the Pink Meanie don't expect it to stay on the Alabama coast for very long. As hurricanes and huge storms do, they tend to stir up and displace wildlife - but experts believe the pink meanies will go back to the depths of the Gulf soon enough and the dead ones washed ashore wilI be cleaned up by scavengers. In the meantime, if you live on the coast, watch your step and keep those photos of the Pink Meanies coming! 

*Many people lost their lives and homes in the path of Hurricane Ian. This article is not meant to make light of this tragedy. My sincere condolences go out to the families who lost so much. My heart and hopes go out to the survivors - may you heal and rebuild as quickly and smoothly as possible. Much love to my fellow Alabamians on our coast and all affected in other states.

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April Killian is a native of Florence, Alabama and writes about her home state of Alabama and the Shoals area. She is the mom of many pets and 3 adult children. Along with writing, she sells vintage items online and conducts estate sales in her area. She is a lifelong supporter of charity work, loves life, and tries to be a positive force in this world in everything she does! Her writing passions include: family and social issues, nature, humor, the paranormal and anything interesting or weird! Click on "follow" to see more of her articles in the future! https://www.buymeacoffee.com/Aprilkillian

Florence, AL

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