Common jellyfish (Aurelia aurita)

loading
Common jellyfish
loading
Loading more images and videos...

Common jellyfish fact file

Common jellyfish description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumCnidaria
ClassScyphozoa
OrderSemaeostomeae
FamilyUlmaridae
GenusAurelia (1)

As its name suggests, the common jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) is the most common jellyfish species on British shores (2). The body is a saucer shaped 'bell', which is colourless except for four obvious violet gonads visible in the centre of the disc (2). The outer edges are fringed with many small tentacles, and four stocky 'arms' surround the mouth (2).

Also known as
moon jelly, moon jellyfish.
Size
Diameter: up to 250 mm (2)
Top

Common jellyfish biology

The common jellyfish is carnivorous, and feeds mainly on a variety of planktonic species such as molluscs, crustaceans, young worms and copepods (3). The plankton is caught in a layer of mucus that covers the jellyfish. Tiny hair-like structures called 'cilia' on the body of the jellyfish produce currents by beating. These currents transport the captured plankton towards the edge of the 'bell', where it is removed with the arms and passed to the mouth (2). The tentacles around the margins of the bell and the arms bear stinging cells, which are occasionally used to catch small fishes and other prey (2).

In the common jellyfish, the sexes are separate and fertilisation occurs internally; the sperm is taken into the female's body via the mouth (2). The fertilised eggs undergo development in pockets in the arms that surround the mouth. The free-swimming larvae (known as 'planulae' larvae) are released during autumn; after some time these larvae settle and develop into tiny sessile animals ('scyphistomae'), which reproduce asexually and release free-swimming tiny immature jellyfish (called 'ephyrae'), which feed on plankton and become mature after around 3 months (2).

Top

Common jellyfish range

The common jellyfish is found around all British coasts (2). It is a northern hemisphere species, found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans (3).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
Top

Common jellyfish habitat

Typically found close to the coast, the common jellyfish can also be found in estuaries (2).

Top

Common jellyfish status

The common jellyfish is common and widespread (2).

Top

Common jellyfish threats

The common jellyfish is not currently threatened.

Top

Common jellyfish conservation

No conservation action has been targeted at the common jellyfish.

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
Top

Find out more

For more on the common jellyfish, see:

Top

Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

Top

Glossary

Asexually
Of asexual reproduction: reproduction that does not involve the formation of sex cells (‘gametes’). In many species, asexual reproduction can occur by fission (or in plants ‘vegetative reproduction’); part of the organism breaks away and develops into a separate individual. Some animals, including vertebrates can develop from unfertilised eggs, this process, known as parthenogenesis gives rise to offspring that are genetically identical to the parent.
Larvae
Stage in an animal's lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
Plankton
Aquatic organisms that drift with water movements; may be either phytoplankton (plants), or zooplankton (animals).
Top

References

  1. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) (September, 2009)
    http://www.itis.gov/
  2. Fish, J.D. and Fish, S. (1996) A Student’s Guide to the Seashore. Second Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  3. Animal Diversity Web - Aurelia aurita, moon jelly (January, 2003)
    http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/aurelia/a._aurita.html
X
Close

Image credit

Common jellyfish  
Common jellyfish

© Christian Beier / www.photoshot.com

NHPA/Photoshot Holdings Ltd
29-31 Saffron Hill
London
EC1N 8SW
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7421 6003
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7421 6006
sales@photoshot.com
http://www.photoshot.com

X
Close

Link to this photo

ARKive species - Common jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) Embed this ARKive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to ARKive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about

X
Close

MyARKive

MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

This species is featured in:

This is a UK sandy shore species. Visit our habitat page to learn more.

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!

Blog