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The Seashore

Common or Moon Jellyfish (Aurelia aurita)

Common or Moon Jellyfish (Aurelia aurita)

Typically this has a diameter of around 15-18 cm but they can be found much larger. They usually have crescent shaped, purple markings in a circle around the top. Jellyfish are a little like an up-side-down sea anemone floating free, with tentacles trailing down.

Jellyfish are carnivorous, stinging any suitable prey such as small crustaceans and fish. Related to the sea anemones, the jellyfish is a medusa form whilst the anemone is a polyp. During the life cycle either may alternate into the other form. During the asexual phase of jellyfish's life it exists on the rocky seashore as a tiny insignificant polyp but they develops into a medusa to disperse and carry out sexual reproduction. Under the bell of the jellyfish there are four dark gonads. The sexes are separate and they discharge the sperm and eggs through the only opening, the mouth, into the water for external fertilisation.

This is probably the species of jellyfish most likely to be seen stranded on European shores. In some summers swarms may be washed in and can be seen in just about any coastal habitat.


See also Sea Gooseberries;

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