Australian jellyfish arrive at SEA LIFE Hunstanton

Another new creature for SEA LIFE Hunstanton this year: Phyllorhiza punctata jellyfish. These simple invertebrates are a lot more complex than you might realise.

Jellyfish are unusual creatures. They’re neither fish nor jelly even if they do look and feel a little gelatinous. Some are among the most colourful animals in the ocean, best to look but not touch these invertebrates. Not only are they very fragile creatures, some of them give a painful sting while others can prove deadly.

These creatures don’t have brains, blood, bones or eyes. Jellyfish also use their mouths both for eating and for waste excretion. When you only have a few organs, you need to make the most of each one! Jellyfish can regenerate their tentacles, and can quickly grow and shrink their entire bodies depending on their food supply. One type of jellyfish is even immortal.

Australian white spot jellyfish are unique because their nutrition comes primarily from zooplankton. The process of consumption is by filtration. They have a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthella, this causes the photosynthesis (the use of sun light to produce energy) which jellyfish utilise.

“Their sting is not strong or harmful to humans, but is effective enough to catch their prey,” said Cody Townsend, aquarist at SEA LIFE Hunstanton.

This species of jellyfish needs constant feeding to help grow and be healthy. They are typically found around North Australia and South-east Asia. The Australian white spot jellyfish is now classified as an invasive species, which means they are taking over an area where they don’t naturally reside - this includes the eastern Mediterranean, Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Sealifejellyfish

Picture and video provided by SEA LIFE Hunstanton.

White spot jellyfish prefer warmer temperate seas and tend to congregate near the coastlines.

"In order to keep jellyfish thriving a specially designed tank is required – called a kreisel – the water needs to be pumped around the tank in a circular motion similar to a washing-machine," said Cody.

"Jellyfish need to be kept suspended in the water column and it is very important that they do not damage themselves by hitting the sides or corners of a tank,’’ she added.

The tank needs to be provided with strong lighting to help produce the photosynthesis energy for the jellyfish to thrive.

Displays Supervisor John Elliot says:

“As a species to keep in an aquarium, you need to be an experienced aquarist to be able to notice the slight change in the water quality, body condition, the correct flow rate of the tank, lighting changes and adjusting their diets.”

What to do if you get stung by a jellyfish? There are many suggestions to treat jellyfish stings ranging from applying vinegar to urinating on the affected area. The best option according to the NHS is to rinse off any remaining stinging cells with salt water before immersing in warm water.

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