13 Mesmerizing Photos of Jellyfish You Have to See
Jellyfish are found in all of the world's oceans and in aquarium tanks large and small. Some jellies are beautiful and some are funny looking. But they have several things in common, including how mesmerizing they are to look at.
The wonder of jellyfish
The World Atlas says that there are more than 2,000 different species of jellyfish. Many of them look like works of art, like this jelly which resembles a dancer’s frilly tutu. As beautiful as they are, many jellyfish have powerful venom in their tentacles so it’s best to keep your distance from them, even if you think you can identify the type as a non-stinger. You’ll also want to note these 20 most incredible underwater photos ever taken.
Jellyfish are everywhere
According to National Geographic, jellyfish live in all of the oceans on the planet both close to shore and in the middle of nowhere. They swim just at the ocean’s surface as well as deep down below it. Some even live in saltwater lakes, such as at Ongeim’l Tketau Jellyfish Lake in Palau. Snorkelers can swim with the jellyfish at Jellyfish Lake because the jellies have evolved so that their sting doesn’t affect humans. Another strange animal that doesn’t seem to mind human snorkelers is the immense whale shark—you can swim with whale sharks at these 11 places.
Jellyfish populations are increasing
Populations of jellyfish are increasing around the world. Mackenzie Neale, director of animal care and “jelly queen” at Vancouver Aquarium, says it’s because jellies have less competition for food due to overfishing and because contaminants in the ocean trigger more jellyfish reproduction. For example, she says that jellyfish polyps “love to grow on plastic” and on structures like docks and pilings. The more we add to the ocean, the more we create “prime jellyfish breeding grounds.” She adds that the slightest change in temperature, whether in the ocean or in a tank of jellyfish, triggers jellyfish “polyps to start producing more jelly babies.” While jellyfish are beautiful to look at, protecting our oceans will help keep jellyfish populations in check. Find out what the world’s most polluted beaches used to look like.
Moon jellyfish are frequently seen off the Atlantic coasts of North America and Europe. These transparent and bioluminescent beauties look like moons floating through the water, hence their name. It’s possible to see moon jellyfish both in the water and washed up on beaches. The sting of a moon jelly is mild and they’re quite easy to avoid in the water. Melanie Roberts, senior aquarist at SeaWorld Orlando, says that “moon jellies can get as big as a dinner plate.” Moon jellies are an important food source for leatherback turtles and ocean sunfish, according to Oceana. Think moon jellies are cool? You might also like these 10 spooky facts you never knew about the moon.
Jellyfish are mostly bags of water
Only biologists and other experts should touch jellyfish—it’s bad for them and for you. There’s a good chance you could damage the fragile creatures and they could sting you. Jellyfish are invertebrates, meaning they don’t have any bones. In fact, 95 percent of a jellyfish’s body is water, according to the National Ocean Service (humans are about 60 percent water). Being made mostly of water helps jellyfish float beautifully through both oceans and aquariums. Some jellyfish even look exactly like bags of water, like these jellies from Thailand’s Andaman Sea. They’re only one of infinite numbers of amazing sights in the world’s oceans.
Free jellyfish meditation
A tankful of jellies is a mesmerizing attraction in an aquarium. No matter where you are in the world, check out some Canadian jellyfish via the Vancouver Aquarium’s Jelly Cam. It shows a live video of their deep blue tank of orange jellyfish—Pacific sea nettles—pulsating past the camera. Looking for some free meditative zen? Put the Jelly Cam up as your screensaver and then you might not even need any of these 25 ways you can relax that don’t cost a cent.
Is that a robot jellyfish?
While many jellyfish look beautiful, some of them look comical. This little jelly is also found at the Vancouver Aquarium and it looks a lot like a jellyfish robot hybrid. Perhaps it inspired the creation of a real mechanical jellyfish robot that helps scientists study the sea. NBC News reports on a mechanical engineering team from Florida Atlantic University that developed a rubber robot that swims like a jellyfish. The robot records ocean data without disturbing sea life. Learn about more unusual animals and robots in these 13 creepy real experiments that sound like science fiction.
The Sea of Cortez, near Mexico’s La Paz on the Baja Peninsula, is known for its extensive biodiversity. In fact, Jacques Cousteau called the Sea of Cortez “the world’s aquarium“. So, it’s no surprise that this sea has an abundance of sea creatures, including these cute non-stingers called blueberry jellyfish. About the size of a grapefruit, blueberry jellyfish are a type of cannonball jelly, which ThoughtCo. says are a favorite food of sea turtles. Find out the 22 animals that are deadlier than sharks.
Pretty in pink but painful
This beautiful jellyfish is a Pelagia noctiluca, also known as the mauve stinger. They’re commonly found in the Mediterranean Sea and The Ibizan reports that their stings are amongst the most painful of all the jellyfish in Europe. In addition to causing blisters, sometimes the mauve stinger makes its victims vomit and have breathing problems—that’s a sign you need immediate medical attention. Don’t miss these innocent-looking animals that are surprisingly dangerous.
The largest and smallest jellyfish
The world’s largest jelly is called the lion’s mane jellyfish. This cold-water giant has orange hairlike tentacles in its center which resemble the mane of a lion. Smithsonian Magazine reports that the largest was 120 feet long; that’s longer than a blue whale. Humans rarely see lion’s mane jellies, as they prefer open ocean water. Their stings can hurt a lot, but not as much as the smallest jellyfish. Called the Irukandji jellyfish, this type of box jelly is less than an inch long and is one of the world’s deadliest. These are 13 more of the weirdest deep-sea creatures.
Deadly box jellyfish
National Geographic says that the venom of the box jellyfish is one of the most deadly venoms on the planet. It can kill the box jelly’s prey—small fish and shrimp—instantly. The toxins in the box jelly’s venom are capable of attacking not only the skin of an animal but also the heart and nervous system. That includes humans who come into contact with box jellies: many die from heart failure in the water, and those that survive report significant pain lasting for weeks after the sting. It’s hard to believe something so simple-looking is so deadly. Venom is a factor in only a few of these 12 most dangerous animal bites you can get.
A gentler jelly
A jellyfish with an extremely mild sting is the unusual-looking Mediterranean fried egg jellyfish. Atlantis Diving, in Malta, reports that the sting is so mild that juvenile mackerel often hang out with fried egg jellies to hide from predators. Humans might not even feel a sting at all. Officially called the Cotylorhiza tuberculata, this jellyfish can propel itself through the water using its cilia.
A fluther of jellyfish
While a group of fish is called a school, groups of jellyfish can be called by several names including smack, bloom, swarm, and fluther. A fluther of jellyfish sounds just about perfect for an animal that seems to be made of water and feathers. If you’re curious about what other animal groups are called, you’ll want to know these 27 hilarious (but totally real) names for groups of animals.