Moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita)
|Researched by||Jessica Heard||Refereed by||Admin|
|Other common names||-||Synonyms||-|
Recorded distribution in Britain and IrelandAurelia aurita can be found all round the coasts of Britain and Ireland.
HabitatAurelia aurita is Britain's most common jellyfish. It is sporadic in its appearance, forming massive local populations in some areas but totally absent in other areas for some years. Aurelia aurita is a pelagic species but may be found washed up on the shore. It is known to occur up estuaries and into harbours and is especially common in Scottish sea lochs.
- Umbrella thins towards the edge and has a distinctive fringe of short, hollow tentacles.
- Four, purple-blue gonads form a characteristic horseshoe-shape, contained almost completely within the gastric cavity.
- Gonads do not extend below the sub-umbrella surface as in many other species of jellyfish.
Additional informationAurelia aurita has an interesting life history. The sexes are separate, the sperm are taken into the female via the mouth and fertilization occurs internally. Pits in the oral arms act as a temporary brood chamber holding the eggs until they develop into free-swimming larvae (planula larvae). Following a brief swimming period the planulae attach to hard substratum and develop into tiny sessile animals (scyphistomae). These reproduce by asexual budding and release free-swimming tiny immature jellyfish (ephyrae). The ephyrae feed on plankton and will generally reach maturity at around 3 months. However, some ephyrae may take up to two years to grow into sexually-reproducing adult medusae (Ruppert & Barnes, 1994).
Aurelia aurita feed, but not exclusively, on plankton and can at times occur in massive swarms, which may be so dense as to give the sea a uniform red colour and slow the passage of small boats (Russell, 1970).
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Last Updated: 07/10/2004