November 3rd marks World Jellyfish Day, and so we’re taking the time to take a look at some of the most unique jellyfish species that are found all over the globe.
In this article we’re also going to give you some crazy jellyfish facts that you can use to impress your friends during the next pub quiz, such as what is a group of jellyfish called, do they all sting and just HOW painful is a jellyfish sting?
You can find them anywhere from the Mediterranean to the Antarctic, and while these creatures have populated the earth for millennia, they actually don’t live for very long - some not even living for more than a few months.
10 Different Jellyfish Species
A lot of people believe that jellyfish are some of the smallest creatures found in the ocean, but they come in so many different shapes and sizes. As of right now, roughly 2000 types of jellyfish have been documented throughout the world, but some scientists believe that there could still be more than 300,000 species of jellyfish that haven’t been discovered yet.
We’ve put together this list, in no set order, to show you ten alien-looking, yet stunning water creatures that are going to really make you think about what’s beyond the surface in the depths of the sea.
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Our number one jellyfish is the Crystal Jellyfish. These gorgeous creatures reside in the oceans around the coast of North America, and they are totally colorless. These jellyfish have around 150 tentacles coming out of their bell, which looks like glass and it looks totally clear in the daylight. This transparency does give the impression of a brighter side too.
According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, ‘Crystal jellyfish are brightly luminescent jellies that have glowing points around the edge of the umbrella.
There are components required for bioluminescence and these include Calcium++ activated photoprotein, called aequorin, and this emits a blue green light and an accompanying green fluorescent protein (GFP) which accepts the energy from aequorin and then re-emits it as a green light.
Scientists have also made ‘green mice’ and these glow green when they are hit by blue light by inserting the GFP gene from the crystal jelly into the mice. This luminescent protein is a commonly used biological highlighter and it helps scientists to be able to find and study genes more easily and quickly.’
Bloodbelly Comb Jellyfish
If we’re ranking cool and stunning jellyfish, then there was no way that we could avoid mentioning the Bloodbelly Comb Jellyfish towards the top of our list. These are technically comb jellies which are only somewhat distantly related to standard jellyfish. Bloodbelly Comb Jellyfish don’t have the stinging tentacles and they are pretty harmless comb jellies that won’t cause any issues for humans.
With that being said, while they lack tentacles they instead have cilia. These are essentially little miniscule hair-like projections and these beat back and forth in order to help to move the jellyfish through the water. The movements of the cilia then create a breathtaking sparkling light show with an array of vibrant colors.
You may assume that the Bloodbelly Comb jelly is a little bit of a show off, but actually the red color that the Bloodbelly Comb jellies turn into makes it almost invisible when it’s in deep water, and this is where the jellyfish are generally found.
In the bottom of the ocean red looks very similar to black, and in specific, the red belly of the jellyfish aids in masking the bioluminescence flow of its prey, and it ensures that it remains safe from its predators.
While the name of this sea creature may not sound all that spectacular, it really is a sight to behold. Its name comes from the almost wart like projections that it has on its bell that look similar to - you guessed it - a cauliflower. It’s also known as the crown jellyfish.
You can most commonly find this jelly around the waters of the mid-Pacific to the Indo-Pacific, though sometimes you can also find it around the Atlantic Ocean off from the West African Coast. These jellies can grow pretty large in size, and can even reach as large as 1.5 to 1.9 feet in diameter!
While it may sound scary when we declare that these are the most venomous of the jellyfish species, you need not fear - they are perfectly harmless to humans. That begs the question, however - what do jellyfish actually eat? Usually, a jellyfish diet will consist of plankton, algae, shrimp and invertebrate eggs. While these jellies do have 30 filaments with stinging cells that stick out from their bell, they are harmless to humans so you don’t need to worry about any painful stings from them.
Similarly to this jelly’s vegetable nickname, you can often find this kind of jelly on a dinner plate. In Japan and China, this species of jellyfish is known to be a delicacy. It’s even used for medicinal purposes in these areas.
At number four on our list we have the White-Spotted Jellyfish. This jellyfish species has a fairly mild venom and because of this, any stings that you get from this jelly are completely harmless to you. In addition, the white-spotted jelly doesn’t usually even use its venom to catch food to begin with!
So, what do these jellyfish eat? The White-spotted jellyfish is what’s known as a filter feeder, much like sponges and oysters. This means that they are able to filter over 50 cubic meters of ocean water each and every day. The main issue with this kind of jellyfish is that a swarm (otherwise referred to as a bloom) of these jellies are able to clear an entire area of zooplankton. We’re guessing that they can get pretty hungry!
This can also cause a shortage for the other fish and crustaceans that also survive on this marine life. In the areas where the white-spotted jelly is known to be an invasive species, for example in the Gulf of California, the Caribbean Sea and in the Gulf of Mexico, their lust for food can cause a little bit of an issue for the species native to the area, such as corals and shrimps.
Black Sea Nettle Jellyfish
Our next option on the list is one of the largest jellyfish in the ocean (though, the title for largest goes to the Lion Mane Jellyfish). This seat critter can be found in the deep sea Pacific waters that surround Southern California.
The bell of this jellyfish is able to reach up to an impressive three foot across, while its obscenely long tentacles can even reach up to 20 feet in length. The stinging tentacles are able to reach 25 feet long. You shouldn’t worry too much because they’re not largely common in a lot of ocean waters.
While these jellyfish are referred to as Black Sea Nettle jellyfish, the bell is only black on jellyfish that have matured, and the immature and small mature jellies have a reddish to maroon colored bell. These immature jellies have whitish pink tentacles and reddish pink oral arms. The oral arms are similar between both large and small black sea nettle jellyfish.
Surprisingly, even though these are pretty large jellyfish, they are actually quite new to science and we don’t know a whole lot of information about them. Some have said that this is because they are challenging to raise in captivity and they are harder to encounter in the wild.
In the past, however, there have been some encounters where some of the largest blooms of Black Sea Nettles have appeared in 1989, 1999, and then again in 2010. Other than these instances though, it’s a bit of a mystery as to what these large jellies get up to.
Fried Egg Jellyfish
Our next impressive jelly on this list is the Fried Egg jellyfish. You may be thinking this is a pretty strange name for a jellyfish, but it has this nickname because it quite literally looks like what a jellyfish would look like if it was masquerading as a fried egg. This is yet another jellyfish that does have venom but this venom does not generally have an effect on humans. Actually, it has a sting so mild that the tentacles are sometimes used by smaller fish to give them shelter in the vast ocean.
The Fried Egg jellyfish is also known as the Cotylorhiza tuberculata, or the Mediterranean jelly. This species only lives for around 6 months during the summer months up until the winter, and sadly they will die when the weather and the water begins to cool down.
If you do see these jellies while you are diving, if you look close enough you may even see the tiny fish hiding inside the tentacles for their protection. In fact, sometimes small crab species will even try to catch a ride on the bell.
You can find this egg-looking jellyfish in the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and in the Aegean Sea.
Flower Hat Jellyfish
Contrary to what you may be imagining in your mind, this species is not one that wears a floral hat - we know, we’re disappointed too! Looking at a photo of one of these jellies will demonstrate where the jellies get their name from. This jelly, seventh on our list, are endemic to the Western Pacific and are commonly found off the coast of Southern Japan and in the Brazillian and Argentinian waters.
These jellies usually hang out around the ocean floor within the seagrass instead of swimming through the open ocean. The seagrass is a much better environment for them to catch the small fish that they prey on.
Though this is a beautiful, alien-like jellyfish, you should not be caught off guard by the phantasmagorical colors that it has. If these jellies sting you, you will most certainly hurt afterward. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, ‘Blooms of these jellies can make swimming in coastal waters off Argentina hazardous.’
These jellies leave a painful sting, and leave a bright burn similar to a rash. These jellies can cause some big issues for shrimp fishing in Brazil too, as they tend to clog nets and will drive the shrimp away, most likely to deeper water.
Number eight on our list is the Atolla Jellyfish. This jellyfish is also known as the Coronate Medusa jelly, and it can be found across the globe. Similar to a lot of deep sea-dwelling creatures, the Atolla jelly has incredible bioluminescent abilities.
Many deep sea ocean creatures will use their bioluminescence as a way to draw in their prey, but the Atolla jellyfish uses it as a way to stop it from becoming another creature’s prey, Once they are attacked, the Atolla makes a number of flashes, much like an emergency siren. These flashes can draw in more predators.
Essentially the jelly does this to make the predator the new target of other predators, instead of the predators wanting to target the Atolla. This means that the jelly gets the opportunity to get away.
Among all of the different species of jellyfish, this is a rather strange jelly in that it doesn’t just have one, but two stomach pouches. This jelly is able to fill both of these pouches with prey. It holds its long tentacles in front of it as it swims.
So why is this? Many researchers think that this is to make them much better at being an ambush predator. According to the biology universe, ocean researchers at Creature Cast have argued that ‘some species of Narcomedusae (also known as narcos by those that study them) are able to grow inside their own mother, instead of being born from eggs laid by their mother, and this will give them extra nourishment and provides them with a safe environment.
The baby jellies will then leave their mother, look for another jelly of a different species, attach itself onto its flesh and then live in the safe environment and nourishment that it offers.’
Pink Meanie Jellyfish
The last jelly on our list is yet another of the largest jellyfish out there, the Pink Meanie jellyfish. This jelly has only been first observed in large groups since the year 2000 off the Gulf of Mexico, so considering their size it’s a bit of a mystery as to how these jellies hadn’t already been discovered sooner.
The pink meanie jelly and its cousin in the Mediterranean are representative of a whole new family of jellyfish, which is pretty awesome as it’s the first new family of jelly species discovered since 1921.
The Pink Meanie jelly likes the taste of other jellies, and this is its prey. It uses it’s very long (can reach up to 70 feet!) tentacles in order to ensnare other jellies, then it reels in its victims and consumes them. Some have even been able to eat as many as 34 other jellies at a time. We bet it’s not got many fans among the jelly community!
This species lives in the US Atlantic, the Coastal Caribbean, and in the Gulf of Mexico, but it may live in other areas of the world too. This jelly is also known as the Drymonema Larsoni after the U.S Fish and Wildlife scientist Ronald Larson, who led work on the species in the early 80s.
Types of Jellyfish: Frequently Asked Questions
Jellyfish are some of the strangest and most alien-looking sea creatures and can make other weird invertebrates look relatively normal. Their fleshy bodies and long swirling appendages make them a capturing eldritch sight, unlike almost any other creature known to man.
But just how many types of Jellyfish are there?
How many types of Jellyfish are there?
There are over 200 species of Jellyfish in the category of ‘True Jellyfish’ or 'Cnidarians' to biologists. This is a large category and does include close relatives of Jellyfish, however. But scientists believe that there are 2000 individual species of Jellyfish known to man, with the potential for up to 300,000 different species to actually exist.
As time goes on and research progresses, it is common for scientists to be able to distinguish previously unknown differences between a species, which is why this number tends to grow. However, the fact that our oceans are still relatively unexplored, the number of different jellyfish species could grow enormously.
What is the most common type of Jellyfish?
The most well-known and common type of Jellyfish is known as the ‘Moon Jelly’ and looks very much like what you would expect from a Jellyfish. They have a large, round, bell-shaped jelly which they use to propel themselves through the water, and a translucent body with purple rings and markings in the middle.
While they look quite strange and somewhat intimidating, these Jellyfish are harmless and are incapable of stinging, but it’s always best to take caution around Jellyfish because proper identification can be difficult.
Can you kill a Jellyfish?
Killing a Jellyfish is actually very hard because they are made up of many smaller organisms called ‘polyps’ and the Jellyfish itself is technically a colony of these smaller organisms all cooperating together. Simply hacking at a Jellyfish will likely lead to little more than an inconvenience for these amazing creatures, and as they live in the water there are only a few sure ways to kill one completely.
This would be to remove them from the water and allow them to die on land by drying out, killing all of the organisms at once and together to prevent healing and regeneration. This is often how Jellyfish are found, washed up on beaches slowly dying from exposure to the heat of the surface.
To be totally sure that it is dead, some say that burning the carcass or using acid to break down its cells are the best way to be sure that a Jellyfish is totally dead.
The truth is, killing Jellyfish is a very difficult task because of their biology and the environment they inhabit. In the water, it’s very difficult for a single person to hurt Jellyfish because they can swim quite effectively and water doesn’t allow us to generate much force or coordinate an effective method of harming these creatures. In fact, the most common way humans harm Jellyfish is totally by accident.
Jellyfish are often caught by fishing vessels as bycatch and are often killed in this way. They also tend to watch up on beaches occasionally, becoming stranded and dying due to being outside of the environment they are so specialized for.
What is the biggest Jellyfish in the world?
The biggest species of Jellyfish known to man is the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish, also known as the Giant Jellyfish or the Arctic Red Jelly. It is easily recognized by its massive amount of tentacles which resembles a stringy mass of hair and its red coloration.
This Jellyfish tends to live in colder waters around the arctic but is commonly found in the English Channel and off the coast of Scandinavia. Some Lion’s Mane Jellyfish are thought to grow to the size of a Blue Whale, the largest living animal in the world, however, the size of this creature can vary.