West Coast Sea Nettle

Chrysaora fuscescens

About This Animal

SIZE: Can grow to be larger than three feet in diameter

RANGE: The Pacific Ocean near the surface of the water column in shallow bays and harbors and deeper in the warm months

HABITAT: Commonly found along the Pacific Ocean coasts of California and Oregon, though some reside in the waters north to the Gulf of Alaska, west to the seas around Japan and south to the Baja Peninsula

DIET: A wide variety of zooplankton, crustaceans, salps, pelagic snails, small fish as well as their eggs and larvae

ON EXHIBIT:  Jellies: Living Art exhibit in Ocean Journey

A west coast sea nettle may grow as large as16 inches in diameter with 24 long undulating maroon tentacles that may trail behind as far as 5 feet. They have four long, lacy,oral arms that spiral out from below their golden bell.

For humans, its sting is often irritating, but is not considered deadly. For most, the pain caused by the sting of a west coast sea nettle is less intense than that of a bee sting. 

Because Sea Nettle's cannot chase after their prey, they must eat as they drift. As its tentacles trail through the water like fishing lines, the sea nettle is able to catch food as it passes by. When prey brushes up against the tentacles, thousands of nematocysts are fired, launching harpoon-like stingers which release a paralyzing toxin into the quarry. The enzymes in the oral arms begin digestion as their meal is transported they transport the prey into the sea nettle’s mouth.

Sea nettles use light-sensitive cells to migrate upward in the water column during the day, then sink into deeper water at night.