Aurelia aurita Click to enlarge image
Moon Jelly, Aurelia aurita Image: Dr Isobel Bennett
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    aurita
    Genus
    Aurelia
    Family
    Ulmaridae
    Order
    Semaeostomeae
    Class
    Scyphozoa
    Phylum
    Cnidaria
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    40 cm

Introduction

The Moon Jelly is a common ocean animal and can sometimes be extremely abundant.

Identification

It has a transparent jelly-like bell with four horseshoe-shaped, pinkish reproductive organs that surround a square mouth. At each corner of the mouth a feeding tentacle hangs down into the water below.

Habitat

Moon Jellies live in oceans, coastal waters and estuaries.

Distribution

Moon Jellies are found throughout Australia.

Feeding and diet

At each corner of the mouth in Moon Jellies a feeding tentacle hangs down into the water below. These are equipped with stinging cells (nematocysts) to capture small prey that are dragged inward towards the mouth.

Other behaviours and adaptations

The outer edge of the Moon Jelly's bell also has tentacles, as well as eight special sensory organs that tell the jellyfish where it is in the water column. Currents may sweep many of these jellyfish into sheltered bays and they are often washed up on beaches.

Predators

The Moon Jelly is one of the favourite foods of many species of turtles.