Wildlife of the Week!

© Katie Smith/ Five Star Whale Watching. A Fried Egg Jellyfish floats near the surface of the Salish Sea.

Welcome to Wildlife of the Week! This week we encounter a special creature from underneath the waves… a jellyfish! More specifically, a Fried Egg Jellyfish (Phacellophora camtschatica). Other jellyfish around the world may be referred to as a Fried Egg Jellyfish, but the species shown above is worldwide and arguably most well-known under the name. Jellyfish are not fish at all, and instead belong with other marine invertebrates. Other marine invertebrates include creatures such as Sea cucumbers, Comb jellies, Sea stars and urchins, among others. Take a look at the yellow centre of the bell (umbrella top); does it look like a broken egg to you? This jellyfish can yield a mild sting; it is always a good idea to be careful around jellyfish when seeing them in the water or washed up on the beach, even if the species is believed to be a harmless one. Read on at our blog at www.5starwhales.com.

The Fried Egg Jellyfish may often be confused with the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish, which actually does not have a sting as does the Fried Egg Jellyfish. The Fried Egg Jellyfish (“Jelly”) may be referred to in conjunction with multiple other “Fried Egg-type” species as well, but for our purposes we will be referring to Phacellophora camtschatica. The Fried Egg Jelly may grow to a whopping 60cm in diameter (across the round bell). The tentacles may trail at lengths up to 6m (20 feet)! The yellow mass (of the reproductive organs) in the bell primarily gives the animal its name, but the rest of the body is often clear, pale, slightly yellow or white which also aids in the appearance of a cracked egg. 

The Fried Egg Jelly does not have the reddish hues that the Lion Mane’s Jellyfish can present. The bell of the Fried Egg Jelly has a wavy-like appearance around the perimeter, which is described as a scalloped margin. Around the margin lie “lobes”, which give way to tentacles- up to 25 tentacles can be seen protruding from a single lobe! The number of lobes can also act as a way to tell similar-looking species of jellies apart. 

You might be wondering why jellyfish appear to have different kinds of tentacles. A jellyfish such as the Fried Egg Jelly may use its longer, finer, outwards tentacles for feeding and delivering a sting to prey or predators. A jellyfish or anemone sting is essentially a set of needle-like projections shooting from holders, these venom filled needles are called “cnidocytes”. The inside “folded” tentacles are used for feeding; entangling prey and delivering it to the mouth. 

As a marine invertebrate that is 95% water, jellies spend their time underwater but are spotted when lingering near the surface (as in this photo above) or washed up on a beach, the latter situation being one that they will usually not survive. The Fried Egg Jellyfish may be spotted around the world in coastal areas of temperate seas; on the West Coast this means their range extends from Alaska to California, which includes the Salish Sea of course. The species is usually found in pelagic depth regions, which means the entire ocean water column! However, these jellyfish become vulnerable when they encounter water too shallow or shore currents too strong, as they can be swept onto land. This is why jellyfish are a plankton, they cannot swim against the ocean’s currents and are at the mercy of such when being carried. 

Fried Egg Jellies, like other jellies, do have a mouth of sorts to consume prey. This mouth is located on the underside of the bell; jellyfish have a “one-way” digestive tract which means that the mouth also discards any waste. The Fried Egg Jelly has been known to feed and prey on other jellyfish. This species has been known to host other invertebrates under its bell (amphipods, barnacles, crabs), as well as young fish. These are believed to be symbiotic relationships (beneficial for both parties). 

Jellyfish reproduce through a series of stages using two forms of reproduction. The first stage involves fertilization of eggs, which are released as larvae to become stationary polyps (similar in appearance to an anemone). Polyps begin to bud and strobilate (like “cloning”), thus releasing tiny versions of jellyfish into the water. These “ephyra” will grow into mature jellyfish (medusae) in about 9 months. Many young jellies can and will be preyed upon by fish and other plankton eaters. 

The Fried Egg Jelly spends most of its life drifting or gently swimming with the “pulsing” of its bell. Jellyfish do not have a complex brain or nervous system and instead rely on a simple “neural net” for swimming impulses. The species has been observed to increase in number in Rosario Street during the summertime. 

To test your knowledge about the Fried Egg Jelly, try out some trivia below!

  1. The Fried Egg Jelly has regions around the bell known as a/n ____umbrella as well as a/n __umbrella (sub, ex, top, lower, large, small). (ANS: Subumbrella and exumbrella). 
  2. A group of jellies is called a/n______? (ANS: Smack). 
  3. True or False? The Fried Egg Jelly has 24 large lobes around the bell. (ANS: False. It has 16 large lobes). 

BONUS CHALLENGE: 

A jellyfish is highly related to what other animal, that is majorly stationary itself? 

The anemone. 

Article Authored By: Alexa D./ Five Star Whale Watching. 

To learn more about this special species, read on with our References below! 

Fretwell, F and Starzomski, B. 2014. “Fried egg jellyfish, egg-yolk jelly”. Biodiversity of the Central Coast. The Starzomski Lab: Research and Teaching. https://www.centralcoastbiodiversity.org/fried-egg-jelly-bull-phacellophora-camtschatica.html

“How do Jellyfish Sting?” Ocean. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. https://ocean.si.edu/ocean-life/invertebrates/how-do-jellyfish-sting 

“Pelagic zone.” Encyclopaedia Brittanica. https://www.britannica.com/science/pelagic-zone

Phacellophora camtschatica”. Zooplankton Guide. Scripps Institution of Oceanography. https://sioweb.ucsd.edu/zooplanktonguide/species/phacellophora-camtschatica

Smith, C. 2002. “Phacellophora camtschatica (Brant, 1835)”. Walla Walla University. Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory. https://inverts.wallawalla.edu

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *