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Purple-striped jelly

Purple-striped jelly
Purple-striped jelly Purple-striped jelly

On Exhibit: Open Sea

Animal Facts

  • Scientific Name

    Chrysaora colorata

  • Animal Type


  • Diet

    mainly zooplankton, including copepods, larval fish, ctenophores, salps, other jellies, fish eggs

  • Size

    to 3 feet (1 m) in diameter

  • Relatives

    Pacific sea nettle, other jellyfishes, sea anemones, coral; Family: Pelagiidae

  • Habitat

    Open Waters

  • Range

    limited range off the coast of California

Natural History

Large and striking, adult purple-striped jellies are silvery white with deep-purple bands. In certain seasons, they mysteriously appear near the shores of Monterey. When the jellies arrive, it's wise to keep your distance (their sting isn't fatal, but it can be painful).

Young cancer crabs are often found clinging to this jelly, even inside the gut. The crab helps the jelly by eating the parasitic amphipods that feed on and damage the jelly.


Human activities can hit nearshore habitats hard. Dredging, dumping and silt build-up can wipe out underwater communities in bays, estuaries and reefs. Several jelly species live in nearshore habitats. And many that don't live near the shore do develop in nearshore "nurseries" when they're young. Harming these habitats could reduce the overall jelly population.

Cool Facts

The purple-striped jelly's lifecycle was first discovered in its entirety at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. 

How does a jelly move? The bell pulses to move short distances—to go farther a jelly rides the current. 

Since divers have seen ocean sunfish eating these jellies, we know some fishes must be immune to the sting.

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