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updated: 3/25/2010

3. Moon Jellyfish Have Arrived

Q. Do they sting?

A. Moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) have a very mild sting. Some people might not even notice being stung unless they happen to be allergic. Compared to the box jellyfish found in tropical waters, whose sting can lead to cardiac arrest within 120 to 180 seconds, moon jellyfish are friendly. Interestingly, they have no heart or respiratory system. They take in oxygen from the water directly through their thin membrane-like dermis.

Q. What brings them here?

A. Moon jellyfish are primarily driven by current, so sea currents bring them here; and tidal action helps carry them into the harbor. They are commonly found in Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans, between latitudes 40° south and 70° north, in water from 21°F to 88°F in temperature. They are often found in bays and estuaries. (Wikipedia wiki icon)

Q. Are jellyfish good for anything?

A. People in China, Phillippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia like to eat them. They provide food for leatherback sea turtles, ocean sunfish, and birds. Jellyfish help keep the populations of things they feed on in check. These include tiny things like zooplankton wiki icon and copepods wiki icon. Medical researchers are finding some jellyfishes' "green flourescent protein" useful in studying cures for Alzheimer's, HIV, and Huntington's Disease as well as for studying photoreceptors in mouse eyes at Yale. Who knew?

Unfortunately, they can clog your boat engine's cooling water intake or sea strainer.

Moon jellyfish photos taken June 11, 2008, in Newport Harbor, CA, USA

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