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 aquarists worldwide, our biologists have described the life cycle for four species of jellies displayed in the Aquarium: the purple-striped jelly (Chrysaora colorata), Pacific sea nettle (Chrysaora fuscescens), the egg-yolk jelly (Phacellophora camtschatica), and the cross jelly (Mitrocoma cellularia).

Our jelly aquarists are exploring the possibility of displaying deep sea jellies and have logged many hours at sea searching for likely candidates. To date, our staff has described the full life cycle of two new species of deep sea jellies, and is studying several more.