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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. Watch 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

Go Behind-the-Scenes in the Pacific Seas Aquarium

Ever touched a moon jellyfish? Seen baby jellies through a giant microscope? Fed an anemone? Starting June 4, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is bringing back its popular behind-the-scenes experience inside the Pacific Seas Aquarium that lets you do all this and more! The fascinating tour through the backstage areas takes you to places only … Continued

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Hungry, Hungry Hammerheads

“Wow, they’re huge!” is something both Zoo guests and staff can be heard saying inside the Pacific Seas Aquarium. They’re talking about the scalloped hammerhead sharks that have dramatically grown since they first arrived in 2017 as nearly 2-foot-long pups. Now, they are an impressive five to six-feet long. And wow, do they love to … Continued

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2020 Year in Photos

What a year this has been! From clouded leopard AI to a new muskox calf, from Zoolights to HeroRATs and everything in between, we’ve captured this year in our best photos of 2020.  

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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.