Jellies Species

Visit Jellies often, because the species will change throughout the year. These jellies are on view now.

Chrysaora quinquecirrha

Size: Bell may be 10 inches wide with oral arms trailing up to 19½ inches.
Habitat: Coastal and estuarine waters of the western Atlantic Ocean.
Fun Fact: Sea nettles, which have a painful—but not fatal—sting, get their common name from the widely distributed wild plant that has stinging hairs on its leaves and stems.

Chrysaora achlyos

Size: This is one of the largest jelly species. Its bell can be more than 3 feet in diameter, and its tentacles can be more than 20 feet long.  
Habitat: Deep, calm waters of the northeast Pacific Ocean, from southern California to Mexico
Fun Fact: New to Shedd, this jelly is also new to science. Secretive and seldom seen, it was only described and named as a new species in 1997. The black sea nettle is the largest new invertebrate species identified in the 20th century.

Catostylus mosaicus

Size: Maximum bell diameter is 12 to 18 inches.
Habitat: Coastal and estuarine waters of the southwest Pacific Ocean, most common along bays and estuaries of Australia's east and north coasts.
Fun Fact: Why are these jellies so fast? Maybe it's because the faster they move, the more food they can get with their short but efficient oral arms.

 Mnemiopsis leidyi

Size: 4 inches long; body width is about half the length.
Habitat: Coastal temperate waters of North and South America; introduced into the Black, Caspian and Mediterranean Seas.
Fun Fact: Tiny beating hairlike cilia propel these jellies in a smooth motion. Light passing between the cilia is diffracted into a shimmering rainbow.

Rhopilema esculentum

Size: The bell can be 18 inches across. Shedd's tiny specimens morphed from polyps to ephyrae to medusas in February. 
Habitat: Coastal waters of the Pacific Northwest
Fun Fact: This is one of the most abundant and important edible jellies in Chinese aquaculture. 

Olindias sp.

Size: Can grow up to 6 inches in diameter.
Habitat: Coastal waters of tropical and temperate oceans worldwide, including coastal waters of Japan, Brazil and Argentina.
Fun Fact: This species is semibenthic, which means the jellies spend time on the ocean floor. They also cluster on kelp—sort of like hats on a rack.

Chrysaora pacifica

Size: Bells can grow up to 12 inches across and tentacles can stretch 10 feet or more.
Habitat: Open waters of temperate northern Pacific Ocean.
Fun Fact: Japanese sea nettles are deep-sea divers: They've been observed from the ocean surface to 200 meters—more than 650 feet—down.

Cyanea capillata

Size: Bell can be up to 8 feet wide and tentacles up to 100 feet long.
Habitat: Open waters of temperate oceans worldwide.
Fun Fact: Lion's mane jellies brood their larvae, called planulae, in their oral arms—a pretty safe place. The packets of planulae are easy to see.

Aurelia aurita

Size: Bell can be nearly 12 inches in diameter.
Habitat: Native to coastal waters of the northwest Atlantic Ocean, but also occur in temperate and tropical marine environments throughout the world.
Fun Fact: Moon jellies are a favorite food of sea turtles, birds and many fish species, which depend on the mesoglea—the supportive "jelly" in sea jellies—for water and some protein.

Chrysaora fuscescens

Size: Up to 30 inches in diameter with mouth arms trailing up to 16 feet.
Habitat: Coastal waters of the northeast Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea.
Fun Fact: These distinctive golden-brown jellies swim against ocean currents with their oral arms and tentacles extended to capture planktonic prey floating by, including crustaceans, snails, fish eggs and larvae, and other species of jellies.

Mastigias papua

Size: Maximum bell diameter is about 5½ inches.
Habitat: Coastal waters of the Red Sea, Indian and southern Pacific Oceans.
Fun Fact: During the day, these jellies stay close to the sunny surface so their on-board algae can produce food for them. At night, the jellies move to deeper water.

Eutonina indicans

Size: Bell averages between 1/10 and 1¼ inches at maturity.
Habitat: Open waters of subarctic oceans worldwide.
Fun Fact: The mouth of this jelly has four lips and hangs beneath the bell margin. The jelly is able to swing its mouth to its tentacles to “lick” up a meal.

Cassiopea sp.

Size: Up to a foot in diameter.
Habitat: Shallow and coastal waters of tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide.
Fun Fact: Symbiotic algae in the jellies' oral arms use sunlight to produce food for themselves and their hosts. Upside-down jellies also capture passing plankton.


Jellies are tough to study: Their fragility, sizes and uneven distribution make field and
lab studies challenging. Find out more about the science of sea jellies.

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