Moon Jellyfish

Moon Jellyfish

Aurelia aurita


When deprived of food, they can shrink to 1/10th of their size to save energy.

Exhibit Name and Location:
Washington - Hallway

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Moon Jelly

Translucent white, saucer-shaped bell, with a blue-gray transparent disk at its center through which the horseshoe-shaped gonads are visible. Short, delicate, fringe-like tentacles hang from the bell margins.




Bell can be up to 12 inches wide, about the size of a dinner plate.


Temperate and tropical oceans worldwide; near the surface of shallow bays and harbors

Population Status

In the past, jelly populations were kept in check by predators like sea turtles and jelly-eating fish. Due to the reduction of their predators, jelly populations are growing at alarming rates.


Sea turtles and other jelly-eating animals, such as tuna, sunfish, butterfish, and spiny dogfish, keep the jelly populations in balance. All seven species of sea turtles include them in their diets. The largest sea turtle species, the leatherback, depends on jellies for food. Because jellies are more than 90% water and an adult leatherback can weigh more than 2,000 pounds, one turtle can consume a lot of jellies.

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A Note From the Caretaker

All of our moon jellies are raised at the facility in Baltimore and are transported to DC for exhibit when they are about the size of a quarter.