You can see right through moon jellyfish — but that doesn’t mean they don’t have secrets.
This article was written for theJuly 2018 issue of Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine. Read it here.
From their phoenix-like regeneration ability to their inscrutable species identity, ethereal Gulf of Mexico moon jellies hide mystery within their translucent bodies.
Moon jellies are circular, with bells domed like umbrellas. Adorning their tops are luminous four-leafed clovers (the jelly’s reproductive organs). Moon jellies don’t have long trailing tentacles but instead sport short, fringe-like cilia around the bell, and four thicker oral arms hanging below. The jellies use their cilia to sweep in food toward a mucus layer on the edge of the bell.
Although they do have stinging cells in their tentacles, moon jellies rarely sting.
The life cycle of a moon jelly is convoluted — less like a cycle and more like a web. At different parts of their life cycle, moon jellies are jelly bean-sized larvae, plant-like polyps and translucent, bell-shaped jellies; they can sometimes skip a step or revert back to a previous one. Continue reading