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500 – 700 million years ago, even before dinosaurs roamed the Earth, jellyfish were drifting along on ocean currents. Jellies are among the most spectacular and mysterious marine species in the world. They are the oldest multi-organ animal and have morphed into more than 2,000 different jellyfish species. Some live in freshwater, but jellies can be found in every ocean. Some sea jellies survive close to the surface while others dwell in extreme depths, glowing with bioluminescence in the pitch black water near the bottom of the ocean. Many scientists and deep ocean explorers expect to discover countless more beautiful jiggly jellyfish as they explore deep sea canyons, and other extreme water conditions near underwater volcano vents and in the harsh frozen temperatures of arctic waters.



Jellyfish going with the flowJellyfish go with flow and have drifted along on ocean currents for millions of years, even before dinosaurs lived on the Earth. Few marine creatures are as mysterious and intimidating as jellyfish. Though easily recognized, these animals are often misunderstood. Sea nettles often have riders on their bodies, sometimes offering a place for small living organisms to be able to move around and sometimes being the food source for the organism. There is a reddish tint on the bell of the Pacific Sea Nettle or West Coast Sea Nettle which can span over 3 feet. This is a distinctive characteristic along with maroon tentacles that identify this particular species of jellyfish. The tentacles can be up to 15 feet long. Photo #1 by luna

jellyfish and tropical fish

Inside the bell or umbrella-shaped body is the mouth opening and jellyfish tentacles hang down from gelatinous bodies. They use the stinging cells of their tentacles to stun or paralyze their prey before they eat it. Jellies mostly float on ocean currents, but if a jellyfish squirts water from its mouths, then it can propel forward. Photo #2 by animaltheory

Butterfly Jellies“Butterfly Jellies,” titled the photographer. Photo #3 by the_tahoe_guy

Blue Ocean and JellyfishIf there are aliens on our planet, it might be NOAA, and not NASA, to discover that in the unexplored depths of our oceans . . . this summer one leading British space scientists claimed aliens do exist and they look similar to huge jellyfish. Photo #4 by NOAA’s National Ocean Service

Mauve Stinger Jellyfish AustraliaThis is a “Mauve Stinger” in Australia, but the most feared jellyfish in Australian waters is the box jellyfish. It is “the most venomous marine animal known to mankind and its sting is often fatal.” Photo #5 by animaltheory

Medusa CassiopeaMedusa Cassiopea which live primarily in the Mediterranean Sea. Photo #6 by Pietro Columba

Diplulmaris antarctica‎ jellyfish under the Ross Sea ice, AntarcticaThe National Science Foundation funds and manages the U.S. Antarctic Program, which supports research in aeronomy and astrophysics, biology and medicine, geology and geophysics, glaciology, and ocean and climate systems. (Date of Image: Oct. 14, 2005) Diplulmaris antarctica‎. Photo #7 by Henry Kaiser, National Science Foundation

Crown JellyfishCrown Jellyfish “are distinguished from other jellyfish by the presence of a deep groove running around the umbrella, giving them the crown shape from which they take their name. Many of the species in the order inhabit deep sea environments.” Photo #8 by Bing

Sea Jellies Gallery from Manila Ocean ParkSea Jellies Gallery from Manila Ocean Park. Although jellies are soft-bodied and lack a skeleton, making fossils rare, evidence suggests that jellyfish predate dinosaurs by some 400 million years. Photo #9 by FoxyReign

Papuan Jellyfish (Mastigias papua) in a special exhibit at the Monterey Bay AquariumPapuan Jellyfish (Mastigias papua) in a special exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This aquarium also has a huge bioluminescence and fluorescence jellies exhibit. Photo #10 by Stevenj



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A flotilla of fish follow a transparent drifting jellyfish, Aurelia aurita

A flotilla of fish follow a transparent drifting jellyfish, Aurelia aurita. The stingers in its tentacles have toxins in them. A jellyfish will sting anything that comes in contacts with including other creatures in the water and even humans. The sting of different jellies have different toxicity levels. Photo #11 by Sonke Johnson / NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration

Jellyfish -- Voyage To Inner Space - Exploring the Seas With NOAA

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its ancestor agencies have been exploring the sea for about 180 years now. One such expedition to the hidden realms and canyons of the sea discovered this jellyfish during “Voyage To Inner Space – Exploring the Seas With NOAA.” Photo #12 by Anna Fiolek, NOAA Central Library

Jellyfish (Tiburonia granrojo) - a new species described by MBARI and JAMSTEC researchers. This species grows up to 1 meter in diameter

Jellyfish (Tiburonia granrojo) – a new species described by MBARI and JAMSTEC researchers. This species grows up to 1 meter in diameter. Photo #13 by NOAA/Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Cassiopea jellyfishCassiopea is also called the upside-down jellyfish. The “mild” stings are notorious for being extraordinarily itchy, appearing in the form of a red rash-like skin irritation. When there are a group of jellies, it is called swarm or a smack. Photo #14 by Jacopo Werther

Amazing fluorescent jellyfish shot in an aquarium of Rhenen's zoo in The NetherlandsAmazing fluorescent jellyfish shot in an aquarium of Rhenen’s zoo in The Netherlands. Photo #15 by Nicolas Hoizey

Moon jellyfish in the Pairi Daiza aquarium in Belgium

Moon jellyfish in the Pairi Daiza aquarium in Belgium. This is one of the most common jellyfish that people see in aquariums around the globe. If stung by the moon jelly, it is only slightly venomous. Contact can produce symptoms from immediate prickly sensations to a mild burning pain. Photo #16 by Luc Viatour / www.Lucnix.be

Jellyfish at the Osaka AquariumJellyfish at the Osaka Aquarium. Photo #17 by Kevin Dooley & #18 by Kevin Dooley

Mauve stinger jellyfish in a rockpool on the South coast of Sardinia, Italy

Mauve stinger jellyfish in a rockpool on the South coast of Sardinia, Italy. Photo #19 by Hans Hillewaert

Bioluminescent JellyfishEvery year more bioluminescent jellyfish are discovered. Top left: Ctenophore from Tasmanian waters with refracted rainbow colors. Top right: Comb jelly capable of bioluminescence. Many jellyfish can glow and light up in various colors of the rainbow. A jelly may become luminescent as a warning to stay away. Photo #20 & #21 by CFB & #22 by Jeff Kubina & #23 by Anna Fiolek, NOAA Central Library & #24 by listsoplenty

Jellyfish. Federated States of Micronesia, ChuukJellyfish. Federated States of Micronesia, Chuuk. Photo #25 by Dr. Dwayne Meadows, NOAA/NMFS/OPR



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Pink and white delicate jellyfishPink and white delicate jelly. Photo #26 by widescreenwalls

Mediterranean jellyfishMediterranean jellyfish. The Cassiopeia Mediterranean species reaches 30 cm in diameter and has numerous short tentacles. Photo #27 by Intandem

Olindias formosa at OsakaOlindias formosa at Osaka Aquarium. The “flower hat jelly can grow to be about 15 cm (6 inches) in diameter. Its sting is painful but non-lethal to humans. Its diet consists mostly of small fish.” Photo #28 by KENPEI

Jellyfish Expedition to the Deep Slope

NOAA Expedition to the Deep Slope. The Sea Nettle is semi-transparent and has small whitish dots and reddish-brown stripes. In some cases, these stripes and dots are missing, and they make the sea nettle look whitish and opaque. The sea nettle is saucer-like in shape. The bell of the sea nettle usually grows to about 6 to 8 inches in diameter. It also has four oral arms attached to the underside of the mouth. In addition to this, it has a number of long tentacles, along the margins of its body, which extend for several feet. Photo #29 by Anna Fiolek/ Expedition to the Deep Slope 2007, NOAA OE

Jelly eat jelly world, pink meanie and deep ocean jelly glowLeft: The Smithsoian Ocean Portal writes, “A “pink meanie” jellyfish (Drymonema larsoni)—a species found in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean—feeds on a moon jelly (Aurelia). Dr. Keith Bayha from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and Dr. Michael Dawson from the University of California, Merced recently discovered that the pink meanie represents not only a new species, but an entirely new family of jellyfish.” Right: NOAA’s “The Hidden Ocean, Arctic 2005: The new jellyfish is in the order Narcomedusae. It has four tentacles, 12 stomach pouches, and most interestingly, four small secondary tentacles at the very edge of the bell. While foraging for food, this species holds its long tentacles, covered with poison filled stinging cells, out in front while it swims, perhaps to ambush its prey more effectively.” Photo #30 by Mary Elizabeth Miller, Dauphin Island Sea Lab & #31 by Kevin Raskoff, California State University, Monterey Bay

Aurelia aurita jellyfish seen during Operation Deep Scope

Aurelia aurita jellyfish seen during Operation Deep Scope. Photo #32 by Dr. Justin Marshall, University of Queensland / NOAA

Voyage To Inner Space - Exploring the Seas With NOAA Collect April 2011Voyage To Inner Space – Exploring the Seas With NOAA in April 2011. Photo #33 by NOAA

Microscopic jellyfish and deep red brilliant bioluminescence jellyfishTop left: Midwater Sea Jelly: The midwater scyphomedusa Atolla tenella, as seen under a microscope. Top right: Atolla is a jellyfish common from midwater, about 500 meters deep, where there is still a small amount of sunlight, to depths of 4,500 meters, far below the limit of sunlight’s penetration. Where there is light, its red color looks black, making it hard to see. It also produces brilliant bioluminescence, possibly to frighten predators Lower left: Alien-looking creatures, like this deep-red jellyfish, Crossota norvegica, float in the Arctic Sea. Lower right: Operation Deep Scope NOAA: Eye-in-the-Sea Bioluminescence — The deep-sea scyphozoan jellyfish, Atolla wyvillei, as seen under white light. Photo #34 by R. Hopcroft, UAF. & #35 by Larry Madin, WHOI & #36 by K. Raskoff, Monterey Peninsula College, Hidden Ocean 2005, NOAA & #37 by Edith A. Widder, Operation Deep Scope 2005 Exploration, NOAA-OE

Fluorescent jellyfish in aquarium in Mystic, CTFluorescent jellyfish in aquarium in Mystic, CT. Photo #38 by Piotr Polkowski

Jellyfish (Chrysaora fuscescens)Massive swarm of sea nettles jellies (Chrysaora fuscescens). Photo #39 by Anastasia Shesterinina & #40 by Joe Penniston

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Sweet and cold death“Sweet and cold death.” Photo #41 by Rubén Chase

Sea Nettle and Black Sea Nettle JellyfishTop: Sea Nettle Jelly, Jellyfish, Monterey Bay Aquarium, California. Bottom: Black Sea Nettle (“Chrysaora Achlyos”). They have four oral arms; long marginal tentacles hang from the bell and can extend several feet. Symptoms from sea nettle stings often are described as burning rather than stinging and are considered moderate to severe. Exercise caution if sea nettles are observed in the water, and do not swim if large numbers are present. The carnivorous Black Sea Nettle is a ‘giant’ among jellyfish with its bell measuring up to 3 feet (1 m) in size, and its arms extending up to 20 ft (6 m) in length. Photo #42 by Fred Hsu & #43 by Fred Hsu & #44 by Jim G

Underwater World, Singapore jellyfishUnderwater World, Singapore. The Smithsonian reported, “GFP, a green fluorescent protein found in crystal jellies, has important medical applications. Mayo Clinic scientists recently inserted a version of GFP and a gene from a rhesus macaque known to block a virus that causes feline AIDS into a cat’s unfertilized eggs. When the kittens were born, they glowed green in ultraviolet light, indicating that the gene was successfully transferred. Biologist Osamu Shimomura won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2008 for discovering GFP.” Photo #45 by Schristia

Purple-striped Jelly“Purple-striped Jelly” (Chrysaora Colorata) taken at Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA. The Scyphozoa class, within the phylum Cnidaria, are sometimes referred to as the ‘true jellyfish’.” Photo #46 by Sanjay Acharya

Nomura jellyfish in Little Munsom island, Jeju-do, South KoreaNomura jellyfish in Little Munsom island, Jeju-do, South Korea. “This one got a bit cropped as I was dodging the stinging tentacles, so I’m not 100% happy with it,” wrote the photographer. Photo #47 by Janne Hellsten from Helsinki, Finland

Cephea cephea in Mactan Cebu, PhilippinesSquishy Cephea cephea in Mactan Cebu, Philippines, can grow up to 18 inches in diameter. Photo #48 by Juuyoh TANAKA

Porpida porpida has a small disc like body and floats freely in the water column; tiny and very dangerous Portugese Man-O-War jellyfishLeft: This tiny and very dangerous Portugese Man-O-War was collected using a dip net over the rail of the R-V Seward Johnson during one evenings “night-lighting” samplings. Its sting is said to be as toxic as a cobra’s bite. Although NOAA has it listed as a jellyfish, it looks exactly like a jellyfish and is potentially deadly, but is actually not a true jellyfish. It is in fact a Siphonophorae, which is a collection of multiple organisms. The tentacles are a separate creature to the gas bladder, for example, and their tentacles can be as long as 45 metres or more. Whilst they can inflect painful stings on humans that, in some rare cases, results in death, some animals such as the Clownfish can swim amongst the normally lethal tentacles with impunity. Center: Porpida porpida has a small disc like body and floats freely in the water column. Related to other species of jellyfish, this species measures just one inch in diameter. Right Top: Tiny jellyfish at Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium. Right Bottom: Jellyfish Bicol. Photo #49 by Bruce Moravchik, NOAA & #50 by Bruce Moravchik, NOAA & #51 by “KIUKO” & #52 by Andrew MacLeod

Jellyfish Dance in Light“Dance in light.” The life span and maximum size varies by jelly species. Jellyfish held in public aquariums are carefully tended, fed daily even when food might be seasonally rare in the wild, and sometimes treated with antibiotics if they develop infections, so may live several years, though this would be very unusual in the sea. Most large coastal jellyfish live 2 to 6 months, during which they grow from a millimeter or two to many centimeters in diameter. Photo #53 by Donnie Nunley

The comb jelly Mertensia ovum is fishing for food under Arctic iceThe comb jelly Mertensia ovum is fishing for food under Arctic ice; Alaska, Beaufort Sea, North of Point Barrow. Photo #54 by Elisabeth Calvert / NOAA Hidden Ocean Expedition

Jellyfish and alien craft jellyLeft: Purple jellyfish (Águilas, Spain). Right: Jelly in the Vancouver aquarium; “Check out the lights on this alien craft….” Photo #55 by Alfonso González & #56 by Evan Leeson

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Cnidaria aquarium zoo in pairi daiza BelgiumCnidaria aquarium zoo in pairi daiza Belgium. Photo #57 by Luc Viatour

Lions-mane jelly and massive Nomuras Jellyfish

Left: The lion’s mane jellyfish (Cyanea capillata) is also know as the winter jelly because the lion’s mane typically appears during colder months of the year. Found in the north Atlantic, they have a bell which can reach six feet (two meters) in diameter with tentacles as long as 100 feet (33 meters). Cyanea are generally considered moderate stingers. Symptoms are similar to those of the moon jelly but, usually more intense. Pain is relatively mild and often described as burning rather than stinging. Right: Giant Normura’s Jellyfish invading Japan. “Pitting two hands against thousands of stinging tentacles, a diver attaches a tracking device to a giant Nomura’s jellyfish off the coast of Japan on October 4, 2005.” The 450 pounds and seven feet long Nomura jellies have plagued Japan. This jelly is about the size of a sumo wrestler, but it’s smaller when compared to the cold-water lion’s mane jellyfish that can reach over 100 feet long with 1,000 stinging tentacles. Photo #58 by Dan Hershman & #59 by DazzlingFacts & $60 by Yomiuri Shimbun

The lion's mane jellyfish (Cyanea capillata). Mandal, NorwayThe lion’s mane jellyfish (Cyanea capillata). Mandal, Norway. Photo #61 by Arnstein Rønning

Moon jellyfish
These moon jellyfish would fit right in on one underground level of Skyrim. Wikipedia explains, “The medusa is translucent, usually about 25–40 cm in diameter, and can be recognized by its four horseshoe-shaped gonads that are easily seen through the top of the bell.” They are called Aurelia Aurita, Saucer Jelly and Common Jelly. Photo #62 by dark side of the moon
Australian Box Jellyfish, the most venomous marine animal known to mankind

Australian Box Jellyfish is listed as #3 in the deadliest animals on the planet, even more so that #4 the Great White shark. The box jelly is the most venomous marine animal known to mankind. It transparent and pale blue in color, which makes it pretty much invisible in the water. For a long time, nobody knew what was causing swimmers such excruciating pain and sometimes killing them. Also called the Sea Wasp, these jellies are strong, graceful swimmers. The box jelly can grow up to 5-6 inches in diameter and 4-6 inches in height. Photo #63 by realwallpapers & #64 by trywalkingwithghosts & #65 by ReasearchScience

2.5 cm long Antarctic Transparent Jellyfish2.5 cm long Antarctic Transparent Jellyfish. Jellies reproduce both sexually and asexually. Upon reaching adult size, jellyfish spawn daily if there is enough food. In most species, spawning is controlled by light, so the entire population spawns at about the same time of day, often at either dusk or dawn. Photo #66 by aminaltheory

Medusa -- Queen JellyfishMedusa — Queen Jellyfish. Some jellyfish like blubber jellies are edible and considered a delicacy in parts of Asia. Photo #67 by jekrub

Jellyfish like tiffany lamp, inner glow of jelly on ningaloo reef“Fancy hat” jellyfish looks a bit like a Tiffany lamp. Right: The inner glow of jelly on Ningaloo Reef, Australia. Photo #68 by Danis51 & #69 by Happy Jack

elegant jellyfishJellyfish are made up of more than 95% water. Their gelatin-soft bodies lack a skeletal structure or outer shell. They are delicate and easily damaged. Jellyfish die when removed from the water, but if you step on a dead jelly, it can still sting you. Photo #70 by goodfon

Purple, orange and pink fancy glowing jellyfishMost jellyfish live from a few hours to a few months, but there is a species of jelly called Turritopsis nutricula that may be immortal. The jelly reportedly can play its life-cycle in reverse, transforming from an adult medusa back to an immature poly. Photo #71 by Stella31

Beautiful blue jellyfishSince jellyfish are not actually fish, some people consider the term jellyfish a misnomer. American public aquariums have popularized the terms jellies or sea jellies. Photo #72 by Victor Amor


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