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Tropical Diver presented by Southwest

Moon jelly

Moon jelly

(Aurelia aurita)

The moon jelly is found worldwide in temperate seas, often floating at the surface over reefs and along the shore. This jelly also is commonly encountered washed up on beaches. Its translucent, whitish disk (or dome) can reach a diameter of two feet and is characterized by a fringe of short, fine, hair-like tentacles around its margin. Four frilly oral arms hang down from the center of the bottom surface of the disk.

The moon jelly’s primary diet consists of zooplankton, which it collects on the upper and lower surfaces of the disk and moves by cilia to the margin. It uses its four oral arms to transfer the stored food from the edge of the disk to its mouth on the underside of the disk.

Watch the moon jelly drift along in the Tropical Diver gallery at the Georgia Aquarium.

Fun Facts

  • The moon jelly is an important prey of sea turtles, fish and other jellies.
  • The four-leaf-clover-shaped structure that can be seen through its translucent disk are the animal’s reproductive organs.
  • Eggs are fertilized internally and retained by the female.
  • Embryos develop on special grooves in the female’s oral arms.
  • Many sea turtles die each year by ingesting plastic bags they mistake for jellies.
  • Download full fact sheet

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