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Lion’s Mane Jelly

(Cyanea capillata)

  • Animal Type

    Invertebrates

  • Exhibits

    Jellies Invasion

  • Range

    Arctic Ocean

    Atlantic Ocean

    Pacific Ocean

Overview

Growing up to 120 feet long with bells up to 8 feet wide, the lion’s mane jelly is the largest known jelly species out there. They can have up to 1,200 tentacles, which originate from under the bell in 8 distinct clusters of 70 and 150 tentacles each. These tentacles contain large amounts of neurotoxins. Fortunately, these jellies are typically found in cold water, so they’re not generally a threat to swimmers. Larger lion’s mane jellies can range in color from bright red to dark purple, while smaller ones are typically tan to orange.

A Note From the Caretaker

Like other jellies, the lion’s mane is capable of asexual reproduction early in life, but when it reaches full maturity, it reproduces sexually. The female carries the fertilized eggs in her tentacles until they become larvae.

Quick Facts

Learn more about the lion’s mane jelly! Did you know that this species earned its name from its red and yellow tentacles, which resemble a lion’s mane?

Lion’s mane jellies are more common in the cold waters of the Arctic, northern Atlantic and northern Pacific. They can occasionally be found in the upper Chesapeake Bay during winter and early spring, but don’t tend to grow as large there.

Zooplankton, such as small fish, other jellies and microscopic crustaceans.

Lion’s mane jellies can vary greatly in size, from less than an inch to 8 feet in diameter. Its tentacles can exceed 100 feet in length.

This species has not been evaluated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is not currently considered in danger of extinction.

Birds, large fish, other jellies and sea turtles.

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