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Jellies Galore!

By: Noel, Sea Otter Trainer

While jellies are one of our smallest exhibit areas they are also one of our most delicate. With over 75 animals representing 4 species of jellyfish this exquisite gallery is growing in numbers!

Our gallery, in recent years has been home to upside down jellies (Cassiopea andromeda)- so named because of their tendency to lie on their backs and look more like a sea anemone than a jellyfish. They live in muddy and swampy areas, mostly along the coasts of Florida. Upside down jellyfish can also get picked up by different crabs and ride on their backs. The crabs use them as a defense against predators. However, their sting is very minor.

In the last few weeks we have added 60 comb jellyfish (Mnemiopsis leidyi). Don’t let the name fool you- they actually aren’t part of the jellyfish phylum, Cnidaria, at all! However, they are closely related. They get their nickname because of all the tiny cilia (tube like feet) that they use for swimming, making them the largest animal to use cilia for locomotion. They are found throughout the world in just about every major marine environment. Unlike the upside down jellyfish, comb jellyfish do not have nematocysts and therefore cannot sting. To protect themselves they rely on sticky tentacles that tangle up their prey.

Another new addition- our spotted  jellyfish (Mastigia papua). They are native to the Indo-pacific and are typically found in bays, lagoons or harbors. Spotted jellies have several small mouth openings on specialized tentacles called oral arms. Because they are filter feeders they can actually filter over 13,000 gallons of water a day through their body!

Last but not least we have our lions mane jellyfish (Cyanea capillata)! They are the largest known species of jellyfish. They can have a bell up to 7.5 inches in diameter. Don't let their size fool you- their stings are not fatal but can cause temporary pain. With such a big body I know what your thinking- what do these guys eat? Well as it turns out one of their favorite things is other jellyfish- in fact without other jellies in their diet they cannot survive. Here at the aquarium we supplement their diet with moon jellies.

Did you know that jellyfish are actually EXTREMELY fragile! That is why whenever you go to the aquarium you see them in tanks with a gentle circular current- so they don't hit the walls.

How old do you think a jellyfish can live? Would you believe that most jellies do not live more than 1-2 years!?

Jellyfish love to eat zooplankton (tiny animals). Here at the Audubon Aquarium, we feed our jellyfish brine shrimp or what you might know as sea monkeys! Pretty cool!

Stop by our jellyfish exhibits to see our newest additions!

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