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Jellyfish

Did you know?

Cnidaria

No bones, no brains, no teeth, fins or even blood – in fact, jellies are mostly water. But they survive in oceans all over the world, and are mesmerizingly beautiful as well.

Drift with Jellies

Drifting, pulsing
Touch the jelly globe.
Drifting, pulsing, drifting… From golden Pacific sea nettles to translucent white moon jellies, our jelly habitat is captivating. Touch the big jelly globe, constantly streaming up and out.
Giant glass jellyfish
Kait Rhoads' ocean vision
Just past the Baja Bay habitat, look up – you’ll see three enormous jellyfish hanging from the ceiling, made of hundreds of blown glass pieces. In this sculpture, Seattle artist Kait Rhoads combines imagination with a passion for the ocean.
Read the story

Meet our jellies

Lion's Mane
Blubber jelly
Egg yolk jelly
Moon jelly
Pacific sea nettle
Spotted Lagoon Jelly
Eating
(and predators)
Jellies use stinging cells to sting and immobilize prey. The long oral arms begin to digest the prey and bring it to the jelly’s mouth, found under the bell.
Most jellies eat plankton, plus young shrimps, crabs, fish and other jellies. They’re eaten by other fish, and leatherback turtles travel for miles to eat Pacific sea nettles.
Larvae, polyps
to medusa
Adult jellies (‘medusa’ form) release sperm and eggs, which combine into free-swimming larvae. These settle onto rocks and grow into a polyp.
Polyps catch zooplankton with their tentacles, developing stacks of frilled discs that break off, drift and grow into adult medusae.
Watch that sting
and give a squeeze
Most jellies have mild toxins that don't bother humans. But some can be as painful as bee stings, and a few, like the sea wasp, can be extremely dangerous.
Giving their transparent muscles a synchronized squeeze, a jelly throws its body into a wave to move outward from the bell and push it through the water.

Changing climate

Changing oceans.

THE THREAT: Jellyfish play a vital role in the ocean food chain, eating plankton and giving food to turtles and fish. Their populations are stable – but recently they’ve been “blooming” in unusual places.

TAKE ACTION: Scientists are still studying how human activity and climate change affects jellies. Meanwhile, it is threatening many other ocean animals. Find out how you can help.

Aquarium Stories

Making Turtle Waves

The look on Keilan Fowora’s face was priceless. “Are these real?” asked the seven-year-old, running his fingers over a sea turtle shell and the sharp teeth on a shark jaw bone. “Yep, they’re real,” assured Heather Detwiler, outreach associate for Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, standing behind the table at Tacoma’s STAR Center. Then Keilan’s … Continued

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Spider crabs make a scientific splash

Aquarist Mikiko Williams, clad in a black wetsuit, stood in the Japanese Spider Crab habitat at the Pacific Seas Aquarium, reached down, gently picked up an animal that weighed about 8 pounds and hoisted it up and out of the water. It was just after 8:30 a.m., the Zoo would open in an hour, and … Continued

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Caring for the small: Rockfish and seahorse

In a corridor surrounded by pipes, tanks and equipment, three women crouch over a tub. One – an intern veterinarian – carefully handles a Q-tip swab. The second – a veterinarian – readies a microscope slide. The third – an aquarist – has her gloved hands submerged, gently holding a china rockfish. A fourth aquarist … Continued

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Who's Nearby?
Love our jellies? Then wander down the ramp to Under the Narrows, home to many Puget Sound species.