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Jellyfish Surprise

Nisqually Jellyfish Washington
Lion’s Mane Jellyfish, by Bonnie Rae Nygren

A stroll along a South Sound boardwalk bears fruit

The Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge at the southern end of Puget Sound was established in 1974 to protect the estuaries where the Nisqually River meets and mixes with the sound, and the sea life that thrives within this river delta — including this lion’s mane jellyfish photographed by AAA member Bonnie Rae Nygren.

A postal worker for 30 years, this Auburn, Washington, resident retired on Halloween 2019 to travel and spend more time on her art of creating colorful cards with acrylics. When COVID-19 curtailed her plans to tour West Coast national parks, Nygren, an avid hiker, began looking for inspiration closer to home.

Going for a walk along the boardwalk at Nisqually soon became a favorite activity — alone or with friends. One day this past August, one of Nygren’s friends mentioned they should start watching for lion’s mane jellyfish, which can be seen by looking over the boardwalk’s side in early fall.

Just 15 minutes later, the group came upon this specimen in a shallow pool right next to the boardwalk about a half mile into the estuary.

“I think the tide was coming in at the time, so the jellyfish was in really shallow water,” Nygren says. “It was such beautiful sun that day, too. It was spectacular.”

Nygren, who posts her art and photos on a blog, says her new camera (a Nikon Coolpix P950) really upped her game.

“It elevated what I thought I could do with what I see,” she says, adding, “I love photography and I think it tells stories in the same way words can and art can.”

– This story originally appeared in the January/February 2021 edition of the AAA Washington member magazine, Journey.

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