Let’s zero in on one of the most common jellies found throughout the world: the Moon Jelly, Aurelia aurita. These jellies are easy to spot due to the distinctive clover-ish shapes that can be seen through the bell. These are the gonads which are the reproductive organs of the jellies. The gonads range in color, from a bluish (male) to pinkish (female). Their bell is a transparent (or see-through) umbrella shape that has tiny tentacles that hang of the edge.
The unique shape of this jelly allows them to hover close to the surface of the water where they can feed. When their prey (things like small, fish, invertebrates, and even other plankton) brush up against the Moon Jelly’s tentacles, it unleashes thousands of stinging cells called nematocysts that will paralyze their prey. Ouch!
While it may sound a little scary, humans need not fear the wrath of the Moon Jelly. Many people believe that all jellies can sting humans but that is not the case with this particular species. Their nematocysts are not powerful enough to penetrate our thick skin and so can not cause any real harm to people.
When it comes to jelly species, we are only just touching the surface – there are over 200 species from around the world! We’ve got a whole, wide, jelly-filled ocean to explore!
While we’re on the subject, check out this Jalapeño Jelly recipe http://allrecipes.com/recipe/jalapeno-jelly/
Edited by: K.C. O’Shea
Photography: Hayley Usedom