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Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Wondrous Jelly Fish of Monterey Bay Aquarium

All Images Copyright by Tom Debley, 2011
All Rights Reserved
Among the strange and captivating animals at the Monterey Bay Aquarium – or any aquarium around the word – are the jellies.  They are 95 percent water.  They have no bones, no blood, no teeth.  But they thrive in our oceans.

So I decided to spend some of my time at Monterey Bay Aquarium recently photographing these magnificent critters, learning a little bit about them, and, now, sharing my results here.

First is the Purple-striped jelly, or Chrysaora colorata, found in Monterey Bay, somewhat inexplicably I might add.  As described by the aquarium folks, “In certain seasons, they mysteriously appear near the shores of Monterey.” Cool facts from the Aquarium are these:

  • “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.”

A second variety that I found fascinating was the Moon jelly, or Aurelia labiata. Some people think they look like alien creatures.  I think they are angelic little parachutes in the water with fine fringe instead of trailing tentacles of other varieties.
One of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s “cool facts” about the Moon jelly was this: “Although they didn’t get to the moon, nearly 2,500 moon jelly polyps and ephyrae – two early stages in the jelly life cycle – went into orbit aboard the space shuttle Columbia in May 1991. They were part of a study on the effects of weightlessness on development of internal organs in juvenile jellies."

Finally, I took photographs of the Sea Nettle Jelly, or Chrysaora fuscescens. There may be a common belief among some that jellies sting, but not all do.

The Sea Nettle, however, is one of the ones that do.  The long tentacles and frilly mouth-arms are covered with cells that sting when they touch any prey.  These cells paralyze the prey and stick tight to it so the jelly can consume it. Prey include young pollock, larval fishes, zooplankton and other jellies

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