Another UK first for jellyfish

Posted: 10th January, 2018

The Deep welcomes two brand new jellyfish species and celebrates a UK first!

After welcoming some polyps of the Mediterranean jellyfish from L'Oceanografic in Valencia, Spain, The Deep's specialist jellyfish aquarists have managed to culture this species for the first time in the UK.

Each polyp releases tiny jellyfish called ephyra, each only 1-2mm across, initiating the delicate task of raising them into adulthood. Sometimes known as an 'egg jellyfish' the centre of their body becomes coloured with the food they have eaten. They can be found in the waters of the Mediterranean sea and its coastal lagoon and can grow up to 35cm in diameter. Despite their size, they have a mild sting, so beachgoers need not to worry about them as much. They have a near translucent body and clusters of colourful oral arms underneath. These blue-purple appendages are essentially the jellyfish's mouth parts, where they can digest the plankton on which they feed.

Jellyfish are closely related to corals and one trait of the Mediterranean jellyfish really highlights this - it glows! Like corals, the frilly oral arms of this jellyfish contain plant-like algae called zooxanthellae, allowing it to generate its own food from the sun through photosynthesis. This algae contains fluorescent pigments, protecting the zooxanthellae from the harmful rays of the sun.

The Deep Aquarist Shoshana says; "We are so excited to be able to share these beautiful jellies with our visitors. Rearing a new species of jellyfish always presents a challenge, some jellyfish can be are very sensitive in the early stages so getting them through the difficult period really creates a sense of achievement. They are a fast growing species, so once we get them to the size of a 10p coin the pressure is lessoned slightly. We have a number of different life stages growing behind the scenes so we hope to have them on display for a while. We now have four very different species on display, so it’s great to be able to show off the diversity of shapes, sizes and colours within the jellyfish family".

Also joining the jellyfish exhibits this week are the Pacific sea nettle. Reaching up to 45cm in diameter, they trailing their long stinging tentacles behind them as they drift through the water. These stinging tentacles pack a punch and are capable of paralyzing even small fish and other jellyfish for them to eat. 

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