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Environment & Science

GIFs: five types of jellyfish you can see at Aquarium of the Pacific

Jellyfish don't have hearts, brains or eyes – but their colors and shapes make for great GIFs.

Here are five species of jellyfish you can check out at Aquarium of the Pacific's new sea jelly exhibit, which opened last week.

Another fun fact: jellies are 95 percent water.

Find out how and why jellyfish sting from our BrainsOn podcast.

Source: Aquarium of the Pacific. GIFs by Maya Sugarman.

1. Spotted Lagoon Jellies

Lagoon jellies, also known as spotted jellies, live in lagoons and bays in the South Pacific. These jellies host symbiotic algae in their tissues that provides food for the jelly via photo synthesis. Because of this, lagoon jellies often swarm together to follow the sun across a body of water for maxium exposure.

In addition to receiving food from the symbiotic algae within its tissues, this jelly also actively preys on plankton. Unlike most jellies which have long trailing tentacles, the lagoon jelly only has thick oral arms for prey capture. Lagoon jellies are about four inches wide on average, but can reach up to a foot in diameter.

2. Japanese Sea Nettle

The Japanese Sea Nettle can range in color from gold to red with dark stripes radiating from the center of the bell. Though the bell of this species doesn’t get as large as other nettles, the oral arms and tentacles can grow longer than ten feet. These jellies thrive in sub-tropical temperatures of 54 to 77 degrees fahrenheit, in waters near Japan.

3. Moon Jelly

Sometimes found in enormous swarms (a jelly swarm is called a smack) in shallow bays and harbors, this billowing jelly is a transparent with short, fine tentacles. The moon jelly can reach 16 inches in diameter, and it has four fringed oral arms for transporting food. This moon jelly is easily recognizable by its four large, horseshoe-shaped reproductive organs in the middle of its bell. Though they can grow fairly large, moon jellies can be preyed upon by other types of sea jelly. 

4. Indonesian Sea Nettle

Indonesian Sea Nettles have fine, thread-like tentacles and frilly oral arms that reach about 3 feet in length. Their pale-colored bell has darker reddish-orange coloration at itsedge. Their sting is dangerous to humans. Indonesian Sea Nettles are found in China, Indonesia and the Philippines.

5. West Coast Sea Nettle

Pacific sea nettles (also known as West Coast sea nettles) live near the surface of the water column in shallow bays and harbors in the fall and winter. In spring and summer they often form large swarms in deep ocean waters.

These jellies are carnivores, feeding on other jellies and a variety of zooplankton including larval fishes and eggs, comb jellies, other jellies, and pelagic snails. As they move through the water with both oral arms and tentacles extended, their tentacles stream below, above, and alongside the bell creating a large surface area with which to capture prey.