Showing posts tagged as "The Jellies Experience"
Nature’s Fireworks: We Discover the Flower Hat Jelly Life Cycle
Some things are worth waiting for – even if it takes 12 years.
Our jelly biologists have discovered the elusive life cycle of Olindias formosus – the stunning flower hat jelly, whose multicolored, fluorescent-tipped tentacles are like a living fireworks show.
The flower hat jelly was first discovered in waters off Japan over 100 years ago, but its life cycle was a mystery. Biologists around the world have been eager to exhibit this gorgeous jelly, but were unable to culture it to adulthood. Now, after 12 years of research, we solved the mystery, and you can see them in The Jellies Experience special exhibition.
“We’re thrilled to discover the life cycle of the flower hat jelly,” said Senior Aquarist Wyatt Patry. “Our team succeeded through collaboration, diligence and a bit of good luck.”
Our discovery could lead to predicting dangerous jelly “blooms” in the wild. The flower hat jelly packs a powerful sting, enabling it to kill and eat fish – and harm humans. Blooms of hundreds or thousands of these jellies off Japan and Brazil have resulted in injuries to many beachgoers, and at least one death, Patry said.
About the Flower Hat Jelly
Found in coastal waters off southern Japan, Brazil and Argentina, and in the Mediterranean, the flower hat jelly has brilliant tentacles trailing from its translucent, pinstriped bell. Another set of curly tentacles under its bell can quickly unfurl and grab prey. This nocturnal species swims in the water column at night and attaches itself to the seafloor during the day.
Our work to understand the life cycle of this mysterious jelly began in 2002 during the Jellies: Living Art special exhibition, which ran from 2002 to 2008. That team was the first to successfully exhibit flower hat jellies in the United States, and culture fertilized eggs and larvae – another first.
Shining a Light on an Amazing Life Cycle
Patry said the current team’s initial breakthrough occurred with a redesigned exhibit that let flower hat jellies capture and eat live fish and kept them away from debris on the bottom. Patry said the team hoped those conditions would encourage successful reproduction – and they did.
Special blue lighting in the exhibit was the next breakthrough. The flower hat jellies, which are fluorescent, are in a gallery that interprets three different types of “lights” in certain jellies – fluorescence, bioluminescence and diffraction. About six months after putting a batch of flower hat jellies on exhibit, Patry noticed two previously unseen stages of their life cycle – polyps and tiny baby jellies.
“I was only able to see them because they are fluorescent, like the adults,” Patry said. “From there we worked with the polyps to refine the ideal food and temperature requirements for them to produce more babies.”
Did you know that the bell jelly is not a true jelly but rather a “hydromedusa?” Usually smaller than true jellies and not as colorful, they have translucent bells and 100 or more wispy tentacles, and red ocelli, or eyespots, which are sensitive to light.
Bell jellies also remain in dark, deep waters during the day and come to the surface at night, and spends about half their time near the seafloor, where they feed on small bottom-dwelling creatures.
Bell jellies used to be abundant in bays and estuaries along the West Coast. But their nearshore seafloor homes have been disturbed by dredging, urbanization and pollution runoff. Jelly populations, especially hydromedusae, are declining in heavily impacted coastal areas.
Our red, white and blue blubber jellies honor your service this #MemorialDay!
Learn more about these colorful jellies
(David Schultz Photography)
Art? Ocean animals? Or both? Check out these amazing photos of our South American sea nettles, from staff photographer Randy Wilder. We grew them behind the scenes from tiny ephyrae (babies), and are the first aquarium ever to display them! Now in the Jellies Experience.
Need something relaxing? Check out this new video of our beautiful crown jellies. You can see them now in “The Jellies Experience”!
Just placed on exhibit! For the first time anywhere, we have South American sea nettles on display. We grew them behind the scenes from tiny ephyrae (babies), received from a research lab in Argentina. They’re now about eight inches!
See them now in “The Jellies Experience”
Here’s a little after-Christmas gift for you: a new wallpaper to dress up that computer or mobile phone you found under the tree. Hope you had a great day!
We’re working with gorgeous barrel jellies as part of “The Jellies Experience.”
Have you seen them? We’ve had blue blubber jellies on display in “The Jellies Experience” before, but this maroon version is new to us. Spectacular, don’t you think?
Visited “The Jellies Experience” lately? Some species are as large as we’ve ever seen them, including our new upside-down jellies. Why live life this way? By lying upside-down, these jellies expose their algae to the sun, allowing photosynthesis!