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

Blubber jelly

Also known as the blue jelly, the blubber jelly comes in colors ranging from very light blue to dark purple and burgundy, and its bell pulses in a distinctive, staccatolike rhythm. Eight clublike oral arms that each contain several mouths transport food to the jelly's stomach.

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.

Mediterranean jelly

The unusual looking Mediterranean jelly, also known as the "fried egg" jelly, has a smooth, elevated bell surrounded by a ring. This jelly requires fresh sea water and lots of light. It feeds mainly on plankton, but also hosts symbiotic algae that produce food by photosynthesis. Its short, clublike appendages contain mouth-arm openings that are colored deep purple.

Crown jelly

Little is known about this species, but the crown jelly is distinguished by its array of about 30 "spikes" emanating from the broad, circular bell. Eight stout mouth-arms and more than 100 long, tapering, pointed appendages spring from this pinkish-purple jelly's central stomach.

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.

Moon jelly

These alien-looking creatures are named for their translucent, moonlike circular bells. Instead of long, trailing tentacles, moon jellies have a short, fine fringe (cilia) that sweeps food toward the mucous layer on the edges of the bells. Prey is stored in pouches until the oral arms pick it up and begin to digest it.

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.

Related Links