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Did you know that Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is home to the largest jellyfish display in Oregon and Washington. And now we have even more!

Upside down jellyfish are new to the Pacific Seas Aquarium in 2022 and, as their name suggests, they live upside down with their bell-shape on the bottom while their tentacles face upwards. In the wild, upside down jellyfish live in shallow, tropical lagoons like the Florida Keys and the Caribbean.

We recently slipped behind-the-scenes of the jellyfish gallery at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium to catch up with jellyfish expert and aquarist Chad about growing and caring for upside down jellyfish. He’s been breeding jellyfish for about 19 years now, and in fact wrote the book on it: “How to Keep Jellyfish in Aquariums: An Introductory Guide.” It’s still the standard textbook for jelly culture.growing upside down jellyfish

Behind-the-scenes, Chad works in a world of science and microscopic wonder with bubbling tanks and petri dishes. It’s where the jellyfish you see on the visitor’s side are grown.

Chad and a team of aquarists facilitate the growth of the jelly babies through in vitro fertilization (IVF) and help them grow from fertilized eggs, to tiny swimming larvae, to polyp, and eventually into the pulsing jellyfish you see on exhibit. All receive daily care and detailed attention from our hard-working aquarists, with task lists and feeding sheets. growing upside down jellyfish

There are nearly 300 upside down baby jellyfish growing quickly behind-the-scenes. It will take about eight weeks for them to go from 8 millimeters in diameter to the size of a small dinner plate.upside down jellyfish

Eventually, many of them will join the 14 mature upside down jellies on public view.  They will be all different colors, from blue and green to purple.

“It’s fascinating watching them grow and evolve into beautiful, pulsating forms,” said Chad.

Read more here about how Chad and a team of aquarists grow and care for the jellyfish in the Pacific Seas Aquarium.

Want to see the process first-hand? Book the Jammin’ with Jellies Behind-the-Scenes experience. It’s a fascinating tour of the areas that only aquarists get to see. You can see baby jellies at different stages of their life cycle, and even touch living moon jellies.