Crown jellies

Enter a far-out world where jellies dance, bloom and sting. These graceful and mysterious animals flaunt an array of fashions, from simple, see-through styles to vibrant colors with ruffles and beads. Some even glow when the light is just right.

In this Exhibit

Flower hat jelly

This striking and rare jelly has brilliant, multicolored tentacles trailing from a translucent, pinstriped bell. It also has tentacles around the rim of its bell that it can quickly coil and uncoil. This mysterious jelly is semi-benthic, sometimes spending its time on the seafloor.

Elegant jelly

Little is known about the elegant jelly. So little, in fact, that it hasn't been described yet and doesn't have a species name. But shine a blue light on an elegant jelly and neon-green dots appear around the edge of the bell—it contains fluorescent molecules that are excited, or glow, when lit by certain wavelengths. Remove the light and it's crystal clear.

Spotted jelly

The spotted jelly is also known as a "lagoon jelly" because it lives in bays, harbors and lagoons in the South Pacific. It has a rounded bell and four clumps of oral arms with clublike appendages that hang down below. Some of the larger spotted jellies actually have small fishes living with them. The fishes use the inside of a jelly's bell as protection from larger predators.

Comb jelly

Comb jellies are beautiful, oval-shaped animals with eight rows of tiny comblike plates that they beat to move themselves through the water. As they swim, the comb rows diffract light to produce a shimmering, rainbow effect. Voracious predators on other jellies, some can expand their stomachs to hold prey nearly half their own size.

More Jellies

Cool Facts

  • Jellies are more than 95 percent water. They don't have bones, brains, blood, teeth or fins.
  • Simple, symmetrical bodies allow jellies to catch prey and avoid danger from any direction.
  • Jelly tentacles are beaded with thousands of stinging cells that stun prey by injecting a dose of toxins. 
  • A jelly can grow or shrink according to the available food supply. If the cupboard is bare, jellies can "de-grow," shrinking in size so they need less food. They can re-grow again when food is more plentiful.

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