December 16, 2014
WITH JELLY BABIES
Hastings Blue Reef Aquarium is awash with dozens of baby jellyfish.
The horde of moon and upside down jellyfish were donated by other UK aquariums to form part of captive breeding programmes at the Rock-a-Nore Road wildlife attraction.
Moon jellyfish get their name from the four purplish ‘half moons’ on top of their transparent ‘bell’. This bell can reach up to 40cms across and has stinging tentacles and four frilly mouth tentacles hanging below.
Found in shallow seas and mangroves, the upside down, or Cassiopeia, jellyfish is unique because, instead of drifiting in the open ocean, it spends its life sitting on the muddy bottoms of inshore bays and ponds.
The species get its common name because, unlike other species, their tentacles and mouth face upwards.
Algae which live in the tissues of the tentacles are exposed to sunlight and are able to photosynthesise to produce food, some of which is passed to the jellyfish.
Blue Reef’s Leanna Lawson said: “We’ve now got more than 50 juvenile jellyfish of both species on display and there are more developing behind the scenes.
“They’re truly fascinating creatures: extremely effective predators, despite the fact they have no brains, no bones and are made up of 95 per cent water!” she added.
Although potentially deadly to their prey, most jellyfish tentacles are only slightly venomous to humans, usually causing mild pain and a burning sensation.
Some fish fry, including haddock and horse mackerel, have developed immunity to the stinging cells and shelter among the tentacles of moon jellyfish, safe from predators.
Visitors can see the jellyfish in specially-constructed displays which mimic life in the open ocean and even have their own internal currents.
“The vast majority of jellyfish species aren’t harmful to humans and those that are don’t do it on purpose; they use their stinging tentacles to catch prey,” she added.
There are over 200 known species of jellyfish. They come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes. The largest is called the lions’ mane which has tentacles that grow over 100 feet.