Monday 14 June 2010

Moon Jellyfish (Aurelia aurita)

It's jellyfish swarming time and when I walked down to the beach just by the Centre this morning, there were a few specimens washed up, one in particular looked very beautiful and worthy of a photo.

I have to confess I don't know much about jellyfish, but Malcolm identified it for me and here's what I subsequently found out:

1) Moon jellyfish is one of the aurelia genus, of which there are more than ten, very closely related species.
2) Moon jellyfish is also called Common or Saucer Jellyfish.
3) Although they can sting small swimming animals, their tiny harpoon like sting is not powerful enough to pierce a human's skin - hurray! (although I wouldn't go testing this just to prove me wrong!)
4) They mainly feed on plankton.
5) They are not great swimmers and are largely at the mercy of tides and currents, which is why we sometimes get stranded jellyfish.
6) Jellyfish swarms occur unintentionally and are due to good (plankton) feeding conditions resulting in lots of baby fellyfish being born at the same time and drifting around together almost totally at the mercy of tides, currents and the wind.
7) The moon jellyfish is identified by its four horseshoe-shaped rings (called gonads) which are visible through its bell.

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