Moon Jellyfish

Aurelia aurita

About This Animal

SIZE: Up to 20 inches in diameter

RANGE: Circum-global, in temperate and tropical waters

HABITAT: Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean

DIET: Small zooplankton; mollusks, crustaceans, and fish eggs

ON EXHIBIT:  Jellies: Living Art and Boneless Beauties in Ocean Journey building

Moon jellyfish are typically translucent white, but may take on a pink, purple or orange hue depending on their last meal.  Their four gastric pouches, or stomachs, can easily be seen through their transparent bodies.  A fringe of hair-like tentacles can be found on the edge of the bell.  These tentacles contain stinging cells that help the jellyfish get food and defend itself. Nematocysts of the moon jelly are too small to bother most humans.

Moon jellyfish can be found in every ocean on Earth but no one is really certain of their origin.  Moons and other jellyfish, 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.