The goals of the Jellies Propagation & Research program are to learn about the life cycles and growing conditions of jellies, and to convey the role these remarkable animals play in our oceans by putting them on exhibit for our guests. The Aquarium was one of the first to culture and display live jellyfish, and they remain some of our most popular displays.

Aquarist feeding spotted jellies, Mastigias papua, behind the scenes

These beautiful animals also play vital roles in ocean ecosystems as a food source for larger species like ocean sunfish, and recent jellyfish "blooms" are being studied for their potential as sentinels of ocean change.

We grow jellies to minimize the need to collect from the wild, and to contribute to basic knowledge of these intriguing animals. The jellies on display start as microscopic polyps and are carefully nurtured to adulthood over a period of months. It's a complicated process that requires constant vigilance.

In addition to developing husbandry methods for jellies that are now used by other aquariums and scientists worldwide, our biologists have described the life cycles of five species of jellies displayed in the Aquarium: the cross jelly (Mitrocoma cellularia), the egg-yolk jelly (Phacellophora camtschatica), the flower hat jelly (Olindias formosus), the Pacific sea nettle (Chrysaora fuscescens) and the purple-striped jelly (Chrysaora colorata).

Our jelly aquarists also have described the full life cycles of two new species of deep-sea jellies—Earleria corachloeae and Earleria purpurea—and are studying several more.