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Pacific Moon Jelly

Aurelia labiata Chamisso & Eysenhardt 1821

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In classifying different species of jellyfish, twentieth century taxonomists tended to classify any flat, whitish medusa with four horseshoe-shaped gonads as Aurelia aurita. Many morphological differences have thus been ignored, and false conclusions about species such as Aurelia labiata have been made. Rigorous research by Lisa-Ann Gershwin on the anatomical species has resurrected Aurelia labiata as a species unique from its close relatives. For decades the individuality of the species was ignored.

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MacMullan, C. 2005. "Aurelia labiata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aurelia_labiata.html
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Chelsea MacMullan, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Renee Sherman Mulcrone
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Behavior

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Little is known about communication between moon jellies. They are relatively primitive animals, so it is likely that if communication between individuals exists at all, it is in a very simple form. Research in this area is lacking.

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MacMullan, C. 2005. "Aurelia labiata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aurelia_labiata.html
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Chelsea MacMullan, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Renee Sherman Mulcrone
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Conservation Status

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Moon jellies exist in large numbers, with stable populations year round.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

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MacMullan, C. 2005. "Aurelia labiata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aurelia_labiata.html
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Chelsea MacMullan, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Renee Sherman Mulcrone
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Life Cycle

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Male and female medusa spawn into the sea where the eggs are fertilized. The fertilized egg is called a planula, a cilliated organism that is elliptical and elongated. The planulae are brooded on the manubrium of Aurelia labiata. They are shaken off and attach to a substrate, usually hanging upside-down from the underside of docks, mussel shells, or rocks. There they transform into a polyp 2-3 mm in height, with an oral disk 1-2 mm in diameter. Polyps range in color from whitish to pale pink and orange. Polyps attached to a substrate asexually reproduce by side budding, stolon budding, or podocyst formation.

Eventually the polyp strobilates, meaning that it transforms into a stack of several organisms. In moon jellies, the strobila are both monodisk (produced one at a time) and polydisk (several disks produced), with more than 20 developing ephyrae (free-swimming, immature medusae). Their color varies with location (cinnamon in Southern California and tan in Monterey). The strobilation time lasts for about 7 days, and the ephyrae are released. Typical ephyrae are 2-3 mm when released, with 8 marginal arms and nematocysts (stinging cells) on the exumbrellar surface. The ephyrae swim about until they develop into mature medusa form.

Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis

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MacMullan, C. 2005. "Aurelia labiata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aurelia_labiata.html
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Chelsea MacMullan, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Renee Sherman Mulcrone
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Benefits

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There is concern, but no causal evidence as of yet, that the blooming populations of moon jellies will dominate consumption of zooplankton food resources and outcompete commercial fish that also depend on the resource. Further studies will be necessary to determine if this concern is valid.

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MacMullan, C. 2005. "Aurelia labiata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aurelia_labiata.html
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Chelsea MacMullan, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Renee Sherman Mulcrone
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Benefits

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Aurelia labiata adapt readily to an aquarium environment and can thrive at a variety of temperatures. In addition, their translucent coloring, moon-shaped bell, and pulsating method of swim make them very beautiful. It is relatively easy to establish polyps and breed the jellies in captivity. For these reasons, moon jellies are some of the most displayed jellyfish at public aquariums. Distributors of jellyfish have opened a new market among consumers who want moon jelly tanks in their homes. Aurelia labiata is emerging as an important commodity in the pet trade, and serves as an attraction at aquariums worldwide.

Positive Impacts: pet trade

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MacMullan, C. 2005. "Aurelia labiata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aurelia_labiata.html
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Chelsea MacMullan, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Renee Sherman Mulcrone
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Associations

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Aurelia labiata is an important consumer of marine zooplankton. They overlap spacially and temporally with important commercial fish, such as the walleye pollock in the Prince William Sound. They potentially compete with these fish species, which also feed on marine zooplankton. Studies have yet to prove that large jellyfish, especially A. labiata, significantly threaten the livelihood of zooplanktivorous fish, but they have shown that their diets and habitats overlap. This could lead to competition for resources.

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MacMullan, C. 2005. "Aurelia labiata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aurelia_labiata.html
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Chelsea MacMullan, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Renee Sherman Mulcrone
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Trophic Strategy

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Aurelia labiata feeds on small zooplankton such as molluscs, crustaceans, fish eggs, and other small jellies. In a gut sampling study, moon jellies primarily selected for crustacean prey. Thorough research on the specific dietary habits is missing from scientific discourse, but the close relative species Aurelia aurita has a diet of plankton organisms as well. Aurelia aurita has a diet dominated by whatever prey type is abundant, adjusting to the availability of given food types.

The plankton is caught on the mucus lining the bell of the jelly. It is moved by ciliary action to the bell margin, where the short fringe of tentacles helps funnel the food into the manubrium and the four horseshoe-shaped stomach pouches at the top center of the bell.

Animal Foods: eggs; mollusks; aquatic crustaceans; cnidarians; zooplankton

Plant Foods: phytoplankton

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats non-insect arthropods); planktivore

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MacMullan, C. 2005. "Aurelia labiata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aurelia_labiata.html
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Chelsea MacMullan, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Renee Sherman Mulcrone
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Distribution

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Moon jellies inhabit the coastal regions of the Pacific Ocean from San Diego, California, to Prince William Sound, Alaska. Though Aurelia labiata has been identified solely in this Eastern region of the Pacific Ocean, its close relative A. aurita is a cosmopolitan species that is ecountered in coastal waters around the world. Confusion in identifying the two species may distort the true range of the moon jellies.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic

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MacMullan, C. 2005. "Aurelia labiata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aurelia_labiata.html
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Chelsea MacMullan, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Renee Sherman Mulcrone
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Habitat

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Moon jellies float near the surface in warm nearshore waters and are especially prevalent in bays and harbors, such as the Monterey Bay. Though common in coastal regions, moon jellies have been referred to as pelagic, or living in the open waters of the ocean. An extremely close relative to A. labiata, A. aurita can survive in waters ranging from -6 to 31 degrees Celsius. It is very likely that A. labiata tolerates similar temperature ranges.

Range depth: 0 to 1000 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; saltwater or marine

Aquatic Biomes: pelagic ; coastal

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MacMullan, C. 2005. "Aurelia labiata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aurelia_labiata.html
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Chelsea MacMullan, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Renee Sherman Mulcrone
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Life Expectancy

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Aurelia labiata polyps usually strobilate early in spring, and the medusae mature very quickly, spawn, and die by midsummer or early fall. In certain places, the medusae population is present year-round.

Typical lifespan
Status: wild:
1 (high) years.

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MacMullan, C. 2005. "Aurelia labiata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aurelia_labiata.html
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Chelsea MacMullan, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Renee Sherman Mulcrone
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Morphology

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The translucent, moonlike bell that is characteristic of Aurelia labiata has earned moon jellies their common name. They do not have the long trailing tentacles that people usually associate with jellyfish. Instead, they have a fine fringe lining the bell margin. The body form of A. labiata is distinguished from close relatives in the genus Aurelia by an enlarged, fleshy manubrium, four oral arms protruding from the base of the manubrium, planulae (ciliated fertilized egg) brooding on the manubrium, and secondary scalloping of the bell margin between rhopalia, forming 16 notches. Aurelia labiata ranges from 100 mm to 450 mm. Bells of juveniles and young adults are translucent, and with maturity they turn milky white, sometimes with a pink, purple, peach, or blue tint.

Aurelia labiata can easily be divided into three geographical morphotypes. The southernmost form, found in California from San Diego to Marina del Ray, has a manubrium that is a wide, rounded frill. The radial canals range in number, depending on age. The oral arms are typically straight. Planulae range in color from white to bright orange, and the bells are colorless to milky white. Male gonads are dark purple, and female gonads are pale pink. Southern moon jellies grow to a maximum of 35 cm.

The central form inhabits coastal waters from Santa Barbara, California, to Newport, Oregon. Abundant in late summer, central moon jellies have an elongated manubrium that is rectangular and tapering. The radial canals are very numerous, and the oral arms are straight or bent counter-clockwise. The planulae are lavender, and medusae found in Monterey, California, are usually purple, while those found in Santa Barbara are often pale pink. Male gonads are dark purple, and female gonads are brown. Individuals of the central form of A. labiata have been recorded as high as 45 cm.

The northernmost form, ranging from Puget Sound, Washington, to Prince William Sound, Alaska, have a pyramidal manubrium. The many parallel radial canals of adults give the bell a lacy appearance. The oral arms are generally straight, and the planulae are found in variable colors. The bells are peach or whitish, male gonads are dark purple, and female gonads pale brown. Northern moon jellies range in size from 14-29 cm.

Range length: 100 to 450 mm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; radial symmetry ; venomous

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike; sexes colored or patterned differently

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MacMullan, C. 2005. "Aurelia labiata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aurelia_labiata.html
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Chelsea MacMullan, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Renee Sherman Mulcrone
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Associations

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The moon jelly has stinging cells called nematocysts with which it can sting potential predators. The sting is mild and does not harm humans. Birds, turtles, and Cyanea capillata are cited as predators of moon jellies.

Known Predators:

  • lion's mane jellyfish (Cyanea capillata)
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MacMullan, C. 2005. "Aurelia labiata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aurelia_labiata.html
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Chelsea MacMullan, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Renee Sherman Mulcrone
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Reproduction

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Moon jellies reproduce using internal fertilization. The gonads are one of the most recognizable characteristics of the animal. They are horseshoe shaped organs with deep coloration that can be seen in the center of the bell. In the mating season, males are seen with sperm filaments attached to their oral arms. Sperm is carried to the gastric pouch of the female by cilliary currents. Females hold the fertilized eggs, which appear as grey clumps, on the manubrium.

Only recently has Aurelia labiata been redefined as a species unique to its close relative Aurelia aurita, the saucer jelly. Information on reproductive behavior or A. labiata is not available at this time. Aurelia aurita is known to reach sexual maturity in the spring and summer. In these seasons much of the organism's energy is devoted to repoduction. As the jellies live in close aggregations, complex mating rituals do not exist, males simply release their sperm filaments during the period of sexual maturity, which are carried to the female gonads by ciliary currents.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; sexual ; fertilization (Internal )

The zygotes of Aurelia labiata, called planulae, are brooded on the jelly's manubrium. In the Southern form, this takes place in a reticulating pattern on the frills. In the central form, the planulae are brooded in tear-drop shape clumps on the base or shelves of the manubrium. Northernmost moon jellies brood planulae at the base or shelves of the manubrium as well. Planulae are eventually shaken off and continue their development after attaching to a substrate.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; pre-fertilization (Provisioning); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

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MacMullan, C. 2005. "Aurelia labiata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aurelia_labiata.html
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Chelsea MacMullan, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Renee Sherman Mulcrone
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Look Alikes

provided by Invertebrates of the Salish Sea
How to Distinguish from Similar Species: The rare Aurelia limbata has profusely branched subumbrellar canals and the margin is dark brown. It is found off Alaska. Aurelia aurita is a very similar Atlantic and Baltic species which has 8 rather than 16 marginal lobes and has unbranched rather than anastomosing adradial canals. Until recently A. labiata along this coast were thought to be A. aurita.
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Distribution

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Geographical Range: Found in most seas, from the poles to the tropics. Includes seas off Europe, Japan, Gulf of Mexico, E. US. Probably not native to the Pacific Coast of N. America, but now can be found all along the coast at times. May have originally been from Europe.
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Habitat

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Depth Range: Shallow pelagic. Often washes up on beaches.
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Comprehensive Description

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This pelagic jellyfish has many very short tentacles, forming a fringe at the margin of the bell. It has 16 marginal lobes and 8 rhopalia. Each rhopalium has a small tentaclelike lappet on each side of it, and also has eyespots. The subumbrellar canals are branched and anastomosing. The oral arms meet at the center of the subumbrella, and extend beyond the bell usually with crenulated margins. Usually an opaque whitish, though sometimes with other colors. The conspicuous, horseshoe-shaped gonads are whitish or may be violet or pink or whitish or yellow. The margin is not brown. The bell is usually wider than high. Up to 40 cm diameter; usually 10-15 cm.
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Comprehensive Description

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Biology/Natural History: Abundance of this species varies widely seasonally and from year to year. Females of this species carry young larvae on the inner edges of the oral arms. Scyphistomae can sometimes be seen in large numbers attached on floating docks or on protected rocks in the lower intertidal, and are about 1 cm long when extended, with long tentacles. In central CA the scyphistomae are seen beginning in February and strobilate around March. In Washington they strobilate January to April. The medusae grow rapidly and are sexually mature by June. Most medusae die after reproducing but some live a second year. Polyps feed by predation like small anemones. The medusa feeds by capturing small organisms such as copepods on mucus, which is then moved to the mouth by cilia. The medusa seems to make little use of nematocycts in capturing food. Individuals of this species from cold waters can survive being frozen solid in ice. The species appears to migrate toward the surface during the day and downward at night. The umbrella pulsing originates in one of the eight rhopalia, and spreads via the nerve net. When starved, this species can shrink dramatically in size while retaining functionality. The tentacles of this species may trigger a slight rash. The species is sometimes eaten by blue rockfish Sebastes mystinus.
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Habitat

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Pelagic, inshore and offshore
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Aurelia labiata

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 src=
Aurelia labiata in the Vienna Zoo

Aurelia labiata is a species of moon jellyfish. It is a cnidarian in the family Ulmaridae. It is typically larger than Aurelia aurita,[1] with individuals document up to 45cm.[2] However much of its size range overlaps with A. aurita (up to 40cm), making size an imperfect diagnostic tool. Most Aurelia labiata have a 16-scalloped bell, meaning the bell indents inward at 16 points, a characteristic that also appears in other Aurelia species.[3][4] Aurelia labiata occurs in the northeastern Pacific Ocean, from the Northern coast of California, north to Canada and into Alaska[4].

 src=
Moon Jelly at Monterey Bay Aquarium, California USA

Behavior

The Aurelia labiata have adaptive behaviors that include directional and vertical swimming. Directional swimming helps them escape from predators, approach to a food source, and swim through turbulence. Vertical swimming allows them to avoid rocky walls and low salinity. These behaviors come from their sensory receptors and nervous system that allows better mobility for their survival.[5]

Predators

Aurelia labiata are fed upon by other cnidarians such as Phacellophora camtschatica and Cyanea capillata. Like many jellyfish, they are also consumed by sea turtles which are immune to their stings.[6]

References

  1. ^ Gershwin, Lisa-Ann (2001). "Systematics and Biogeography of the Jellyfish Aurelia labiata (Cnidaria: Scyphozoa)". Biological Bulletin. 201 (1): 104–119. doi:10.2307/1543531. JSTOR 1543531. PMID 11526069. S2CID 33294412.
  2. ^ "Aurelia labiata (Moon jellyfish)".
  3. ^ Gershwin, Lisa-Ann (2001). "Systematics and Biogeography of the Jellyfish Aurelia labiata (Cnidaria: Scyphozoa)". Biological Bulletin. 201 (1): 104–119. doi:10.2307/1543531. JSTOR 1543531. PMID 11526069. S2CID 33294412.
  4. ^ a b Lawley, Jonathan W.; Gamero-Mora, Edgar; Maronna, Maximiliano M.; Chiaverano, Luciano M.; Stampar, Sérgio N.; Hopcroft, Russell R.; Collins, Allen G.; Morandini, André C. (2021-09-09). "The importance of molecular characters when morphological variability hinders diagnosability: systematics of the moon jellyfish genus Aurelia (Cnidaria: Scyphozoa)". PeerJ. 9: e11954. doi:10.7717/peerj.11954. ISSN 2167-8359. PMC 8435205. PMID 34589293.
  5. ^ Albert, David J. (2008). "Adaptive behaviours of the jellyfish Aurelia labiata in Roscoe Bay on the west coast of Canada". Journal of Sea Research. 59 (3): 198–201. Bibcode:2008JSR....59..198A. doi:10.1016/j.seares.2007.11.002.
  6. ^ Graham, T.R.; Harvey, J.T. (2010). "The acoustic identification and enumeration of scyphozoan jellyfish, prey for leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), off central California". ICES Journal of Marine Science. 67 (8): 1739–1948. doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsq112.
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Aurelia labiata: Brief Summary

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 src= Aurelia labiata in the Vienna Zoo

Aurelia labiata is a species of moon jellyfish. It is a cnidarian in the family Ulmaridae. It is typically larger than Aurelia aurita, with individuals document up to 45cm. However much of its size range overlaps with A. aurita (up to 40cm), making size an imperfect diagnostic tool. Most Aurelia labiata have a 16-scalloped bell, meaning the bell indents inward at 16 points, a characteristic that also appears in other Aurelia species. Aurelia labiata occurs in the northeastern Pacific Ocean, from the Northern coast of California, north to Canada and into Alaska.

 src= Moon Jelly at Monterey Bay Aquarium, California USA
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Diagnosis

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There were 13 diagnostic positions for COI
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Lawley, J. W.; Gamero-Mora, E.; Maronna, M. M.; Chiaverano, L. M.; Stampar, S. N.; Hopcroft, R. R.; Collins, A. G.; Morandini, A. C. (2021). The importance of molecular characters when morphological variability hinders diagnosability: systematics of the moon jellyfish genus Aurelia (Cnidaria: Scyphozoa). <em>PeerJ.</em> 9: e11954.
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André C. Morandini [email]
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André C. Morandini [email]