| || Lagoon Jellyfish |
Size: Up to 24 inches in diameter.
Range: South Pacific Ocean, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
Wild Diet: Small plankton, but primarily photosynthetic deriving much of its food from symbiotic algae (zooxanthallae).
Several varieties of this species exist in the Indo-pacific region. Some live in inland, land-locked saltwater lakes, others can be found in coastal bays and lagoons. During the day, swarms of these jellies follow the rays of the sun. They rely on the sunlight to fuel the growth of the symbiotic algae. This algae not only gives them their spotted colors, but feeds them as well.
| || Crystal Jellyfish |
Size: Up to 10 inches in diameter.
Range: Entire Pacific coast of North America
Wild Diet: Small medusa, comb jellies, and polychaetes; occasionally cannibalistic
Glow in the dark
Almost entirely transparent, crystal jellyfish have a small tufted mouth and up to 150 fine tentacles. Aequorea is one of many jellyfish that bioluminesce when disturbed. No one is exactly certain how wild jellies benefit from this ability. The greenish light is produced by a pair of proteins, called aequorin and green fluorescent protein (GFP). These proteins, first discovered in the 1960’s, have become essential tools in bio-medical research. In 2008, the four scientists that discovered these proteins in the Crystal jellyfish received a Nobel Prize for their work.
| || Moon Jellies |
Size: Up to 20 inches in diameter.
Range: Moon jellies can be found worldwide, in temperate and tropical waters.
Wild Diet: Moon jellies prefer to eat small zooplankton including mollusks, crustaceans and fish eggs.
Pulsing gracefully in search of prey
Moon jellies drift through the ocean like pale, glowing orbs. Moons are typically translucent white but may take on a pink, purple or orange hue depending on their last meal.
A troublesome traveler
Moon jellies can be found in every ocean on Earth, but no one is really certain about their native waters. Moons and other jellies are often accidentally transported from one region to another in the ballast water of large seafaring ships. Once released, these invasive species compete with native animals and add stress to troubled fisheries.
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West Coast Sea Nettle
Size: Up to 15 inches in diameter.
Range: Eastern Pacific, Mexico to British Columbia
Wild Diet: This species feeds on small crustaceans, mollusks, fish eggs and larvae, and other jellies.
An integral part of the oceanic food web
The dusky orange hues of the West Coast sea nettle's bell pulse continuously against the current. Its maroon tentacles and lacy white oral arms trail 12 to 15 feet behind, stinging and collecting a wide variety of zooplankton. Although they are effective predators, their large size and abundance make this species a valuable food source for many marine animals.
A name from mythology
The name Chrysaora comes from Greek mythology and refers to the son of Poseidon and Medusa. Meaning "golden sword," it is a warning of the stinging ability of these jellies.
| || Upside-down Jellies |
Size: Up to 12 inches in diameter.
Range: This species can be found in shallow, coastal, tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific and Hawaii, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.
Wild Diet: Most of the upside-down jellies food is acquired from symbiotic algae (zooxanthallae) that produce nutrients through photosynthesis.
The Buddy system in nature
Unlike most other jellies, this species rests upside down on the sea floor and rarely swims. The brownish hue is the algae that live in the jellies tissues. The algae use sunlight to make food, which they share with their jelly host.
Neighborhood in danger
Upside-down jellies are commonly found basking in mangrove swamps and sea grass beds. These habitats are two of the most threatened habitats on Earth. They are easily damaged by human activities such as coastal development.
| || Sea Walnut |
Size: Up to five inches long.
Range: Sea walnuts are native to western Atlantic coastal waters, including the Gulf of Mexico. They have been introduced elsewhere.
Wild Diet: Sea walnuts consume small zooplankton including crustaceans, fish eggs and larvae, and occasionally other comb jellies.
Shimmering with all the colors of the rainbow
Sea walnuts belong to a group of animals known as comb jellies. Comb jellies have no stinging cells but instead use sticky mucous to catch their prey. These animals get their name from rows of paddle-like hairs, called combs. Like tiny prisms, these hairs refract visible light into a pulsing rainbow.
Trouble for the Black Sea
In the 1980s comb jellies were accidentally introduced into the Black Sea, most likely via ship ballast water. Without a natural predator, the comb jellies quickly took over their new home and devastated local anchovy fisheries. Despite the introduction of a natural predator, Beroe (another type of comb jelly), which has helped control the invading sea walnuts, the Black Sea fisheries have yet to recover.