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Types of Jellyfish

Instructor: Amanda Robb
In this lesson, we'll be going over the basics about different types of jellyfish. From the deadly box jellyfish to the gigantic lion's mane jellyfish, there's a jellyfish for every occasion.

What Are Jellyfish?

What makes a top predator? Picture an animal you know at the top of the food chain. You might be thinking of a lion or a shark. With their keen senses, sharp teeth and speed, you wouldn't want to run into one of these while they're hungry. However, there's another king in the ocean, and they don't have any of these features.

Jellyfish are marine animals that lack most of the features we are accustomed to seeing in an animal. They have no eyes, teeth, claws or fangs, but with their poisonous tentacles they dominate ocean ecosystems.

The basic parts of a jellyfish
jellyfish

There are thousands of species of jellyfish, ranging from tiny ones only a few centimeters wide, to large mammoths of the sea, with bells (the domes at the top) larger in diameter than a grown man is tall. Today, we're going to look at several common types of jellyfish living all over the world.

Jellyfish are famed for shutting down beaches, and causing painful stings when you touch them. Most jellyfish are equipped with stinging cells called nematocysts on their tentacles. When a jellyfish comes in contact with prey, the nematocysts are activated, which send poison filled stingers into the jellyfish's victim. However, although nearly all jellyfish have stinging capabilities, only some are deadly to humans. Let's look at some of the types of jellyfish.

Box Jellyfish

The box jellyfish is a highly poisonous type of jellyfish, named for its box-like shape with one tentacle protruding from each corner. These jellyfish live in the Indo-Pacific Ocean and the coasts of northern Australia.

Their poison is enough to send humans into cardiac arrest, causing them to drown in shock before reaching shore. For those that get treatment, painful welts and scarring are expected for weeks after the sting.

Box jellyfish, note the four tentacles
box jellyfish

Lion's Mane Jellyfish

Unlike the modest four-tentacled box jellyfish, the lion's mane jellyfish can grow up to 800 tentacles in a flowing net of yellow and orange drifting nearly 100 feet beneath it. The bell can grow to about seven feet in diameter, making this the largest jellyfish on Earth.

Unlike the box jellyfish, the lion's mane jellyfish likes it cold. It can be found in the cool waters of the Arctic, Northern Atlantic and Northern Pacific oceans. Although not as poisonous as the box jellyfish, a lion's mane sting will definitely leave a painful memory.

The largest jellyfish lives in the cold northern oceans
lion mane jellyfish

Diplulmaris Antarctica

The lion's mane jellyfish isn't the only one that likes it cold. Although we usually think of Antarctica as a pretty desolate place, underneath thick sheets of ice is a cold paradise for well-adapted organisms. The jellyfish Diplulmaris antarctica is one of these animals. It's white bell only stretches seven inches across with white and orange tentacles flowing underneath it.

Diplulmaris antarctica lives in the cold waters of the Antarctic Ocean
Antarctica jellyfish

Flower Hat Jellyfish

Like the name sounds, these jellyfish are fabulously flamboyant with a colorful pinstripe bell and multicolor tentacles extending outward. They're much smaller than the lion's mane jellyfish, at only six inches in diameter.

However, large swarms of jellyfish off of the coast of Argentina and Brazil can make swimming in the summer difficult despite their modest size. These beautiful jellyfish can also be found off of the coast of Japan.

The colorful flower hat jellyfish
flower hat jellyfish

Golden Jellyfish

Not all jellyfish live in the sea. The golden jellyfish lives in a saltwater lake, aptly named Jellyfish Lake, in the island chain of Palau near the Philippines. This lake teems with jellyfish isolated from their marine cousins so long, they have actually lost their sting.

To survive, they spend most of their day migrating back and forth across the lake to the western shore. They are one of the few species of jellyfish that actively navigates their environment. Named for their golden domes and tentacles, these small jellyfish congregate in large numbers in Jellyfish Lake.

Golden jellyfish live in Jellyfish Lake
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