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February 10, 2014

Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium is being invaded by jelly babies.

The jelly babies in question are a colony of bizarre upside down jellyfish which were born as part of a captive-breeding programme.

Found in shallow seas and mangroves, the Cassiopeia jellyfish is unique because, instead of “swimming” about in the open ocean, it spends its life sitting on the muddy bottoms of inshore bays and ponds.

The jellyfish get their common name because 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 Aquarium’s Steve Matchett said: “These individuals were captive bred and donated to us.

“At the moment they have just reached the adult stage of their lifecycle and are around six centimetres across, however they can grow up to 30 centimetres in diameter.

“Now they have reached maturity we are hoping they will also soon start to display signs of breeding,” he added.

Made up of approximately 95% water, the upside down jellyfish gets much of its nutrients from photosynthesis. However it does possess stinging cells in its tentacles which it uses to catch and paralyse passing prey.

It also uses this weapon to deter would-be predators by releasing stinging cells into the water. Unsuspecting swimmers can be affected by the stings, which cause a red rash-like irritation and are said to be ‘extraordinarily itchy’.

A particular species of crab has been observed picking up individual jellyfish and placing them on its back as a means of defence against predators.

Issued by the Blue Reef Aquarium. For more details or to arrange interviews or picture opportunities please call Steve Matchett on 01637 878134.