Cannon Ball Jelly Fish
Cannon ball jellyfish swimming in shallow waters on Panama City Beach
This is a cannon ball jellyfish swimming along the beach in St Andrews State park on Panama City Beach, Florida.
These jellyfish are a delicacy in Asian countrys when prepared properly.
They are not sold fresh. It seems that a jellyfish will spoil quickly if not processed. So immediate processing is necessary.
Supplying the Asian market has become an industry in coastal towns of the southeastern United States.
Jellyfish boat pulling trawl nets in pass off St Andrews State Park
Shrimp trawl nets drag along the bottom. Jellyfish trawl nets skim the surface.
Jellyfish boat at marina in St Andrews
Jellyfish boat working a school of cannon ball jellyfish along shoreline on Panama City Beach
This boat will unload his catch of cannon ball jellyfish late this afternoon and the catch will be quickly transported to a processing facility about 50-miles east of Panama City.
Cannon ball jellyfish washed ashore on Panama City Beach
This is the cannon ball jellyfish that those boats are fishing for.
Jellyfish have to be processed before they fit for human consumption.
Keep in mind that jellyfish contain 70% to 90% water and they spoil quickly.
The catch must be kept iced then quickly processed. Processing is a rather complicated and laborious process that requires the umbrella part of the jellyfish to be separated from the body. In that process the intestines and gonads are removed as well.
That leaves two halves (the umbrella and the body). These are covered with a mixture of salt and alum to draw the moisture out. This is a process much like breading something for frying. The salt and alum is applied to all surfaces then the placed in a large barrel and allowed to sit for a day or so. Then the brine is drained off and the process repeated. It seems that this process is repeated up to 6-times over a period of up to 30-days.
When this process is completed all the moisture has been removed from the jellyfish much like the moisture has been removed from jerkey.
When the processed jellyfish has reached this stage it is preserved and ready for shipping.
When these processed jellyfish are purchased in the Asian market individuals will rinse the salt off the piece of jellyfish they intend to eat. Then soak the jellyfish in a marinade overnight (I think this marinade process is done in the refrigerator but I am not sure about that). After marinating the jellyfish is ready to be cut into small pieces or strips and served on salads or with dips such as soy sauce.
Unloading catch of cannon ball jelly fish at dock on St Andrews Marina
This large suction hose is sucking cannon ball jellyfish out of the hold on this converted shrimp boat.
Box of cannon ball jellyfish about to be loaded onto refrigerated truck
The cannon ball jellyfish being sucked out of the hold of the fishing boat in the picture above are being transferred to this large container via a conveyor belt. Excess water is drained away on the conveyor belt ride. This container also has holes in it so the draining process continues.
When sufficient water has drained a fork lift will transfer the contaner to a referigerated 18-wheeler.
The empty yellow cantainer is ready to replace the nearly full container.
I chatted with one of the boat captains while watching this amazing operation. He told me that each boat generally caught between 15 to 24 of these containers each day of fishing.
He was paid $100 for each full container of jellyfish. Then he said a day's fishing generally costs around $300 in fuel.
He also told me that they could not catch and sell jellyfish every day. It seems that he can only sell when the processor has room for the jellyfish in the processing facility. As I discussed above, processing jellyfish is a labor intensive time consuming process. Thus the processor has to have labor and room in the processing facility before he can accept more of the jellyfish.
From what I can see this is a hard way to make a living.
We noticed that all the jellyfish boats were gone the next day. I guess they returned to their home port somewhere east of Panama City. I expected to watch them repeat this operation the next day but I was wrong. I certainly would have asked where they were home ported if it had occurred to me.
If this has been interesting you might want to look through our other jellyfish pages:
Mike & Joyce Hendrix
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