Join us in celebrating World Jellyfish day by diving in with curiosity and reading about some of the unique and beautiful jellyfish species found throughout the world.
Every 3rd November the world celebrates World Jellyfish Day! In order to celebrate our favorite coelenterates, we’ve put together this list of 10 different kinds of jellyfish and an awesome infographic dedicated to these amazing yet freaky creatures!
10 Different Types of Jellyfish
Currently, around 2000 jellyfish types have been documented, but scientists estimate that there could still be over 300,000 species yet to be discovered. That’s a lot of jellies…
Here we have put together, in no particular order, ten alien-looking species that will raise your eyebrows and make you think twice about what’s really out there in the big blue.
1. Crystal Jellyfish
Coming in at number one is the Crystal. Located in the waters around North America’s coast, this species is actually completely colorless, hence its name! This beautiful specimen has around 150 tentacles lining its glass-like bell and in the daylight looks crystal clear. Although, this transparency belies a brighter side.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium says that “Crystal jellies are brightly luminescent jellies, with glowing points around the margin of the umbrella. The components required for bioluminescence include a Calcium++ activated photoprotein, called aequorin that emits a blue-green light, and an accessory green fluorescent protein (GFP), which accepts energy from aequorin and re-emits it as a green light.
Scientists have created ‘green mice’ that glow green when hit by blue light by inserting the GFP gene from the crystal jelly into the mice. The glowing protein is a widely used biological highlighter that helps scientists find and study genes more quickly.”
2. Bloodybelly Comb Jellyfish
Ranking high in the charts for the coolest, is our next contender, the Bloodybelly Comb. Which, technically speaking isn’t even related to the jelly! This one doesn’t have the famous stinging tentacles that others possess. It is actually a harmless jellyfish to humans.
However, what they lack in tentacles they certainly make up for in their cilia, cilia are tiny hair-like projections that beat back and forth to help propel it through the water. This movement of the cilia creates a beautiful sparkling light show showing an array of colors.
Despite a reputation of potentially being a “showoff”, the red color that the Bloodybelly Comb turns, actually makes it nearly invisible when in deep water, which is where they are normally found. Red looks very much like black in the depths of the ocean. The red belly also helps to mask the bioluminescence glow of its prey and keeps it extra safe from the attention of its predators.
3. Cauliflower Jellyfish
Getting its name from the wart-like projections this type has on it a bell resembling that of a vegetable, we give you the Cauliflower! While this jelly may not sound the prettiest of its species, it is still truly beautiful.
Most commonly found within the mid-Pacific to the Indo-Pacific and sometimes also around the Atlantic Ocean off of the West African coast. The Cauliflower jelly grows relatively large in size reaching up to 1.5 to 1/9 feet in diameter.
Very much like its vegetable nickname, this kind is often also found on dinner plates! Mostly in China and Japan where the species is considered to be a delicacy and is also known to be used for medicinal purposes within these locations.
4. White-spotted Jellyfish
At number four on, we have the White-spotted. These jellies have very mild venom and therefore do not pose a threat to us humans. In fact, the white-spotted jelly doesn’t generally even use their venom to catch food at all!
These are what’s known as a filter feeder, similar to oysters and sponges. They can filter over 50 cubic meters of seawater every single day! The only downside of this cute little thing is a swarm of these jellies can clear an area of zooplankton! Greedy little things!
Causing none left for the fish and crustaceans that also munch on the microscopic critters. In such areas where the white-spotted jelly is considered to be an invasive species, such as the Gulf of California, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, their hungry appetite poses somewhat of a problem for the native species from shrimps to corals.
5. Black Sea Nettle Jellyfish
Next, a monster jelly, the Black Sea Nettle! This particular species can be found in the deep Pacific waters around Southern California. The bell of the Black Sea Nettle can reach up to three-foot across, its arms up to 20 feet in length and its stinging tentacles 25 feet long.
Without saying, it would be pretty damn scary if you caught yourself in the middle of a bloom with these giants. Considering their size, this is one of the jellyfish breeds that are relatively new to science and we don’t actually know that much about them. It has been said that this is partly due to them being very difficult to raise in captivity and they aren’t very often discovered in the wild.
There has, however, previous encounters where blooms of Black Sea Nettles have surfaced in large numbers in 1989, 1999 and in 2010. But other than these occurrences, what these jellies tend to get up to it a little bit of a mystery.
6. Fried Egg Jellyfish
At sixth on our celebratory list, is the Fried Egg Jelly. Now, I wonder why they call this the Fried Egg, any ideas. Anyone… Yep, you guessed it! It looks a little like a fried egg. Although, you probably don’t want to be adding this one to your morning breakfast!
This is the Cotylorhiza tuberculata, better known as the fried egg or even the Mediterranean jelly. This particular species actually only survive for around 6 months, from the summer months until the winter, dying when the weather and water start to cool down.
If you spot them diving, take a close look and you will be able to find tiny fish that hide inside the tentacles for their own protection. Sometimes, smaller crab species will also take a chance and hitch a ride on the bell too!
7. Flower Hat Jellyfish
Now unlike the Fried Egg jelly, unfortunately, this isn’t a species that wears a floral hat! Sorry to disappoint you! But you can see where it gets its common name from. Seventh, on our list, this species is endemic to the Western Pacific, commonly found off the Southern Japan coast and also within the waters of Brazil and Argentina.
They tend to mostly hang about near the ocean floor among the seagrass rather than pulsing their way through the open ocean. The seagrass is better for them in order to catch the small fish which they prey on.
Although alien-like, this is a beauty. But don’t be fooled by the extraordinary colors that it poses, it packs a nasty sting! According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium “Blooms of the flower hat jellies make swimming in waters off Argentina hazardous.
The sting of this jelly is painful, leaving a bright rash. In Brazil, blooms of the flower hat jellies interfere with shrimp fishing, as they clog their nets and drive shrimp away, probably to deeper water.”
8. Atolla Jellyfish
Coming in at number eight on our list it the Atolla jelly. Also known as the Coronate Medusa, this can be found all around the world. Like, must deep-dwelling creatures the Atolla has super awesome bioluminescent abilities.
Most deep-sea ocean dwellers use their bioluminescence to attract prey, but this type actually uses it to keep it from becoming the prey! Once attacked, the Atolla creates a series of flashes, similar to that of an emergency siren. It’s the flashes that this species produces that draws in more predators.
The idea is that the predators will be more interested in the original attacker, rather than the Atolla, allowing the jelly a chance to make a getaway! It is this strategy that has given the Atolla the nickname “alarm jellyfish”.
9. Narcomedusae Jellyfish
Known to have a Darth Vader kind of appearance, we give you our next jelly, the Narcomedusae. Out of the different species of jellyfish, this rather unusual type has strangely, not one but two stomach pouches. To be able to fill both pouches with prey, the Narcomedusae holds its long tentacles out in front of it when swimming.
Researchers believe that this is to make them a more effective ambush predator. According to the unexpected world of biology, the people at Creature Cast have said that “Some species of Narcomedusae (affectionately called narcos by the people that study them) can grow inside their own mother, who provides nourishment and a safe environment for her.
The narco babies can then leave their mother, find another jelly of an entirely different species, attach to its flesh, and thrive on the nourishment and safe environment it provides.”
10. Pink Meanie Jellyfish
Last but not least on our celebratory list of all types of jellyfish is the Pink Meanie! Having only been first observed in large groups in the year 2000 off of the Gulf of Mexico, it is a mystery as to how one of this size hadn’t been discovered sooner.
The Pink Meanie has a taste for other jellies and actually preys on them! Using its very long, up to 70 feet long, tentacles to entangle them, they then reel in their victims and consume them. These creatures have been known to eat as many as 34 at a time! It sounds like something out of a horror movie, doesn’t it!!
We know that this species inhabits the US Atlantic, the Coastal Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, but also perhaps other parts of the world too. The Pink Meanie is also known to be named Drymonema Larsoni after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife scientist Ronald Larson, the man that pioneered work on this species back in the early ’80s. Read more about it here.
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World Jellyfish Day Infographic