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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.
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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

One Fish, Two Fish…

What better way to go back-to-school than at an aquarium? Here at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, we have two huge aquariums to choose from, with schools of fish to make any Dr. Seuss fan happy! Here’s our version of the familiar classic. Read, then come and meet all the characters in real life, at … Continued

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And her name is…Gertie!

After a week of public voting, fans chose Gertie as the name for the new giant Pacific octopus in the Pacific Seas Aquarium at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. The name was one of six names chosen by aquarists. Over 7,100 votes came in online during the week, and the race was close. Gertie topped … Continued

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Jellyfishing

On an overcast morning, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s jelly team readies their boat and heads out into Puget Sound to a cove between Vashon and Maury Islands. The goal: collecting moon jellies. Moon jellies are plentiful in the waters around the Pacific Northwest and the jelly team will try to collect up to 100 … 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.