Outforia Quicktake: Key Takeaways
- Fried egg jellyfish are delicate creatures resembling a fried egg, found in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Pacific Oceans.
- There are two types: Cotylorhiza tuberculata and Phacellophora camtschatica, with distinct appearances and sizes.
- They have weak stings and form symbiotic relationships with fish, crabs, and amphipods that live among their tentacles.
- Fried egg jellyfish are predators that hunt both passively and actively, primarily feeding on zooplankton.
- They reproduce through a complex life cycle involving polyps, strobila, and medusae stages, and face threats from sea birds, sea turtles, and plastic pollution.
Have you ever heard of a jellyfish that looks like a fried egg? No, it’s not a new culinary creation – it’s an actual creature! And it’s just as wobbly and jiggly as you’d expect.
Fried egg jellyfish use the stingers in their tentacles to capture prey. Yet, some fish and crabs live on these jellyfish and within their tentacles. They use the fried egg jellyfish as protection while traveling to where they need to go.
There are two kinds of fried egg jellyfish, and they get their name from their appearance. The shape and coloration of their bells make them look like fried eggs.
Continue reading to learn more about the life history of the fried egg jellyfish. We’ll cover where they live, how they behave, and how they reproduce.
What Is A Jellyfish?
Fried egg jellyfish are part of the class “Scyphozoa.” Researchers consider them “true” jellyfish. They are part of the phylum “cnidaria,” which contains over 11,000 creatures that can sting. To be a “true” jellyfish, an animal must be part of the phylum cnidaria.
Despite what their name suggests, jellyfish are not actually fish. They are simple animals that don’t have gills, fins, or scales.
Jellyfish are such simple animals that they don’t even have a brain. Rather, they have a simple nervous system called a “nerve net.”
Their nerve net runs throughout their body, allowing them to sense their environment. They can sense changes in the water chemistry, the amount of light, and which way they are facing.
A jellyfish’s body is so simple that it comprises 95% water. Most of their body comprises a substance called “mesoglea.”
Mesoglea is a gelatinous substance primarily comprising water. The other 5% of their body comprises muscles and the nerve net.
Jellyfish have stinging cells, or cnidocytes. Each tentacle contains cnidocytes that explode when touched. When a cnidocyte explodes, it releases a nematocyst. A nematocyst is like a small dart that contains toxins meant to stun prey.
What Is A Fried Egg Jellyfish?
The fried egg jellyfish, or egg yolk jellyfish, gets its name because its bell looks like a fried egg. The inner part of the top of the bell is darker than the somewhat translucent margin.
Fried egg jellyfish are also very delicate. Rough currents can damage them. While dealing with rough waters, the “yolk” often seems to break.
The damage to their bell makes them look like a fried egg that someone cooked poorly with a broken yolk.
Two kinds of fried egg jellyfish exist: Cotylorhiza tuberculata and Phacellophora camtschatica.
The center of the bell is slightly raised and is orangish-brown in color. The outside of the bell is more flattened and is a creamy yellowish color.
Their bells can reach up to 13.8 in (35 cm) in diameter.
Their tentacles are short and look somewhat like cauliflower stalks from the top. From the bottom of the jellyfish, the tentacles end in small bulbs that look like speckles. The bulbs are alternating white and purplish-blue, making the jellyfish quite unique.
They have a short lifespan of only half a year. They usually hatch from their eggs in the summer months and die by the winter of the same year.
Fried egg jellyfish live in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. They also live across the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. They are free-floating animals that live in the open waters of the ocean.
They prefer shallow, warm waters. Fried egg jellyfish only exist up to a depth of 165ft (50.2 m).
These fried egg jellyfish are larger than their cousins. Their bells can reach up to 24 in (60 cm) in diameter.
The outer part of their bell tends to be transparent and comprises 16 large lobes. Small lobes sit between the larger lobes, alternating. Each lobe contains 25 tentacles that can grow as long as 20 ft (6 m).
Phacellophora camtschatica is also called the fried egg jellyfish because of its bell. The center of the bell is milky white to creamy yellow, resembling a yolk.
The outer edge of their bell is translucent, causing the jellyfish to look like a fried egg.
Phacellophora c. tentacles are the same color as its bell. Their oral arms are much shorter than their tentacles, often due to damage. The oral arms are sometimes darker than the tentacles. They look like bits of egg yolk running from the center of the bell.
People often confuse these jellyfish with the lion’s mane jellyfish.
These jellyfish are pelagic, meaning they live in the ocean’s open waters.
Phacellophora camtschatica are further distributed than their cousins. They live around the world in oceans with temperate waters.
Fried egg jellyfish live in the Pacific Ocean from Chile to the Gulf of Alaska. They also live throughout the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean sea.
Fried egg jellyfish don’t do much, they are lazy swimmers that gently push their bells through the water. Still, they can swim quickly when they need to, and their bell pulses as they move.
They also have weak stings, and some animals live amongst their tentacles.
Amphipods live in their subumbrella, the underside of their bell. Some crabs live on their exumbrella, the top of their bell.
Juvenile Pacific jack mackerels even live within the tentacles of the jellyfish. The tentacles offer the juvenile fish protection as they travel through the ocean.
Researchers are unsure how these animals can withstand the jellyfish’s stinging tentacles. The amphipods and crabs may get some protection from their shells.
Fried egg jellyfish prefer to be alone and do not swarm. The only time several of these jellies will be together is if they all get caught in the same current. Since they don’t swarm, they are not a threat to humans.
Fried egg jellyfish are predators that generally forage for their food.
Usually, fried egg jellyfish sit motionless in the ocean. Their tentacles hang below them. Their tentacles act like spiderwebs. They trap prey that happens to wander into the tentacles.
Yet, fried egg jellyfish are fierce ambush predators when they need to be.
Larger prey gets entangled in the tentacles. Many nematocysts fire at once to stun the prey. With smaller prey, only a single tentacle fires nematocysts to stun the animal.
They primarily eat zooplankton like amphipods, copepods, and smaller jellyfish. They sometimes eat arrow worms and fish larvae as well.
Fried egg jellyfish move vertically along the water column. Many of their jellyfish prey move horizontally. So, they swim right into the fried egg jellyfish’s tentacles.
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All jellyfish have two life stages: polyp and medusa.
Medusae Jellyfish & Spawning
Medusae jellyfish are adults. They have umbrella-shaped bodies that we recognize as jellyfish.
Medusae are either male or female, and they reproduce sexually.
When it is time to spawn, clusters of male and female medusae release sperm and eggs into the water. The females gather the sperm with their oral arms and bring the sperm to their mouths.
After some time, the eggs develop into planulae larvae. Upon hatching, the larvae are round or oval-shaped. After a few hours, they begin to look more pear-like.
They remove themselves from their mother’s oral arms. The larvae have leg-like cilia that beat against the water and allow them to swim. They only swim through the water until they find an ideal spot to settle. Usually, they choose a sheltered, rough location that is easy to grasp.
Once they choose a location to settle, they attach themselves upside down. Their tentacles point upward into the water, and they use them to filter feed. Now, they are polyps.
Polyps are juvenile jellyfish. They look somewhat like flowers attached to the sea floor. They reproduce asexually, creating offspring genetically identical to themselves.
Polyps have longer lifespans than medusae, often living for several years. They will stay in the polyp stage until water conditions are ideal.
Once the water quality is good, and there is plenty of food, strobilation occurs.
The polyps form miniature medusa-like structures called “strobila.” The strobila stack on top of each other to form a stalk. The most mature individual sits on top. The still-developing strobila are near the bottom.
Then, the strobila on top buds off to become an ephyra. Ephyrae look like miniature adults. They have marginal lobes, tentacles, oral arms, and a bell.
After some time, ephyrae develop into adult medusae that sexually reproduce. Then, the cycle begins again.
Fried egg jellyfish have gelatinous bodies and weak stinging cells. So, they make easy prey for predators. The primary predators of this species are sea birds and sea turtles.
Fried egg jellyfish are important for the environment. They are a primary food source for many animals. Sea turtles, birds, and at least 50 species of fish routinely make a meal of these jellyfish.
Unfortunately, the fact that predators eat these jellyfish is also a bad thing. Predators often mistake floating plastic bags for jellyfish. The bags cause them to suffocate, and many animals die.
Unlike most marine animals, jellyfish are thriving in the midst of climate change. The increased nutrients and water temperatures are prompting reproduction. Jellyfish blooms are becoming far more common year after year than they were in the past.
Jellyfish are also far more capable of existing in water with low levels of oxygen.
As the water temperatures rise, the oxygen content decreases. Most marine animals, like fish, need a lot of oxygen to survive. Jellyfish can exist with very little oxygen. So, climate change doesn’t affect them as much as other creatures.
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Fried Egg Jellyfish FAQs
What Is The Least Painful Jellyfish Sting?
The moon jellyfish likely produces the least painful sting. Rather than long tentacles, they have hundreds of short ones that are very fine. Their sting is mild, and most people barely have a reaction. Some people don’t experience any reaction at all.
What Jellyfish Causes The Most Pain?
The most dangerous and painful jellyfish is the box jellyfish. There are about 50 species of box jellyfish around the world. Most live in the waters of northern Australia and the Indo-Pacific.
There are two box jellyfish considered the most venomous animals in the world:
– Australian box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri)
– Irukandji box jellyfish (Carukia barnesi)
Once a nematocyst penetrates the skin, it can enter the bloodstream. The toxins cause a spike in blood pressure. In some cases, the blood pressure rises high enough to cause a person to go into cardiac arrest.
Fortunately, these cases are relatively rare. Still, about 20 to 40 people die every year in the Philippines due to box jellyfish stings.
How Old Are Jellyfish?
Jellyfish have short lifespans. Yet, their species has existed for over 500 million years. Jellyfish are the oldest species on earth, three times older than the dinosaurs.