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The Pacific sea nettle’s large bell is yellow to reddish-brown, and its long, ruffled tentacles can be yellow to dark maroon. These tentacles are covered with stinging cells, which are lethal to prey. The sea nettle’s stings aren’t dangerous to humans, although they are painful.
A Note From the Caretaker
Just like a person with a rod and reel, when sea nettles have their tentacles fully extended, they are “fishing” for a meal.
Learn more about the Pacific sea nettle! Did you know that this jelly uses light-sensing organs (called ocelli) to migrate daily from dark, deep water to sunlit surface water?
These jellies are found primarily off the west coast of the United States, and occasionally as far south as Mexico and as far north as British Columbia. This species has also been spotted near Japan.
Pacific sea nettles feed on zooplankton, including other jellies.
The bells of these jellyfish can measure up to 30 inches wide, and tentacles can be as long as 16 feet on giant specimens.
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.
Explore Similar Animals
The National Aquarium—and the aquatic world—is full of amazing animals like this one.