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Moon Jellyfish

Updated on February 24, 2016

Scientific name: Aurelia aurita

Moon Jellyfish
Moon Jellyfish


DNA has certainly offered us an inside look at people and all living creatures. Take the Moon Jellyfish for example. On the exterior all 10 subspecies look identical to each other in terms of shape and design. However, when you do DNA profiling on them that is when you will realize there are significant differences among them.

Since DNA information hasn’t been out more than a few decades though you will still find information that lumps all of them together. When you are studying Moon Jellyfish or gathering data you have to be very careful. You want to make sure what the person used is in reference to a specific subspecies or if it is talking about all of the Moon Jellyfish as a whole entity.

Photo Taken by Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Staff
Photo Taken by Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Staff


The physical appearance of the Moon Jellyfish is very different from so many other species. It offers a round look and it has a very transparent look to the white coloring. When the light is through it from the sun or the moon it does look like a miniature moon. Thus, the name Moon Jellyfish is very fitting for it.

The size of one of them depends on the location, the subspecies, and even how much food they are able to get. They typically are found in the spectrum from 25 to 40 centimeters. On top of the body are thin hairs that are very long and they help them to move around. As a result the Moon Jellyfish is able to detect movement around it. This can be prey or predators.

Many people don’t even realize they are seeing a Jellyfish when they come into contact with one of them. They assume it is a Saucer Fish, especially if they see stripes on the body. They are sometimes present on the younger generations of the Moon Jellyfish. They will diminish as they become fully mature.

It really is fascinating to think about all that the Moon Jellyfish can do. You have to consider that it doesn’t have a brain at all. It relies on a sensory system to help it detect movement. The instinct is for it to sting anything it comes into contact with. 95% of the body is water and only the remaining 5% is actually solid.

Moon Jellyfish Facts


We do know that there are over 2,000 different species of Jellyfish out there. How they all came to be though is a huge mystery. They all are linked to a common ancestor back to 650 million years ago. Yet what that actual ancestor is we really don’t know. There are so many theories on what occurred but not sufficient evidence to prove – or disprove them.

What we do know is that the Moon Jellyfish is very adaptable and that is due to their evolving over time. It is also believed that the toxins they offer were designed to make it possible for them to survive. This part of their anatomy helped to protect them from predators as well as to get their prey.


Like so many other species of Jellyfish this one doesn’t have the ability to move well on their own. They tend to be moving around in the water of the ocean based on the current and the wind. That is why it is so important for them to have a system that allows them to get prey.

The body of the Moon Jellyfish has tentacles of various lengths that prey will stick to. Anything that touches those tentacles is going to be lanced by the toxins that they offer. This is why when people come into contact with them that they get stung. Some people say it hurts a great deal. Others though never know what happened. When they get out of the water they notice an area that is red and itchy but that is all.

No one has ever died from a Moon Jellyfish sting. Experts believe that the reason many people don’t know that they got stung by one has to do with them not being able to penetrate very deep into the skin.

Sometimes they are found in blooms so a person may get stung by several Moon Jellyfish at once. Most of the time though they are found living alone. It all depends on the movements of the water, the wind, and of course food supplies.

Habitat and Distribution

There aren’t any parts of the ocean where the Moon Jellyfish don’t reside. This includes the cold areas as well as the warmer once. They do like the water though that has lower amounts of salt present in it. They have been found living in large numbers around Hawaii, Florida, North America, Europe, Canada, Gulf of Mexico, and New England.

There are quite a few of them out there in terms of overall numbers. Yet it is very difficult to get an accurate count of them. So many of them are deep down in the water where we can’t see them. Yet most of the species tend to stick close to the surface of the water. One of the biggest threats to them in the water is toxic materials that come from pollution and oil spills. Since they are so thin it doesn’t take much at all to destroy them.

Diet and Feeding Habits

Like all species of Jellyfish this one uses the sticky tentacles to capture prey. Then they will take it to the mouth where they swallow it whole. The toxin from the tentacles has already immobilized the prey. The stomach has various enzymes present that make sure that it can be broken down to use for nutritional value.

There are a variety of types of food that the Moon Jellyfish will consume. They include plankton, crustaceans, mollusks, and eggs. They are opportunistic so they will consume prey any time they have the chance to do so. Those that are kept in captivity have a diet that mainly consists of lots of brine shrimp.

Moon Jellyfish Dance


When temperatures are warm and food is plentiful the Moon Jellyfish can offer eggs and sperm. They will do so mainly in the summer time and can be involved with that process daily for weeks at a time. This leaves them worn our and very open to disease an bacteria. It is also essential that they find enough food or they won’t survive. The average lifespan of the adult Moon Jellyfish is 6 months.


There are only a handful of predators that consume the Moon Jellyfish. They include larger types of fish. However, in many locations the amount of fish has been reduced due to commercial fishing efforts. The Sea Turtle is well known for the lengthy migration it undertakes every year. Without the abundance of Moon Jellyfish out there they wouldn’t make it.

Many people hunt and kill the Moon Jellyfish too. They certainly don’t want to be taking a risk of swimming and getting stung. Large nets have been used in particular areas to help reduce the numbers of them. This is particular true in those locations that are heavily dependent upon tourists showing up. When they are worried about Moon Jellyfish around though it makes it tough for people to enjoy being at the beach.


Submit a Comment

  • sgbrown profile image

    Sheila Brown 

    6 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

    Wonderful hub! I love anything to do with animals, this is great! I love the videos too! Very interesting and well written. Voted up and interesting! Have a great day! :)

  • AnimalWrites profile image


    6 years ago from Planet Earth

    Interesting facts on Moon Jellyfish. I have seen some beautiful displays of them in aquariums with different coloured lights - they certainly are very graceful, delicate creatures

  • Kris Heeter profile image

    Kris Heeter 

    6 years ago from Indiana

    Very interesting hub - these are very beautiful creatures and fascinating to watch!

  • JKenny profile image

    James Kenny 

    6 years ago from Birmingham, England

    What a fascinating creature, they look like something you'd see on an alien planet. Thanks for writing this. Voted up etc.

  • aviannovice profile image

    Deb Hirt 

    6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

    Such beautiful and delicate creatures. Thanks for the great hub and the effort that you put in it.

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    A lot of research went into writing this article. Very nicely done!

  • kate12402 profile image


    6 years ago from Storrs, CT

    This was an extremely well written hub!! I actually saw the TEDTalks talk about deep sea life ( and was completely fascinated by the jellyfish. For awhile I had one of those jellyfish up as my desktop background. I'm curious, what made you so interested in moon jellyfish??


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