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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
- 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.