The Deep has welcomed Spotted lagoon jellyfish into the Cool Seas zone, marking another new species for the aquarium.
These jellyfish were sent to The Deep from Oceanario de Lisboa, Portugal, earlier this year. On arrival, they were only babies (ephyrae) and had plenty of growing to do. Now fully formed adults, they have gone onto display in their Cool Seas zone for visitors to enjoy.
Since their arrival, The Deeps specialist jellyfish aquarists have managed to breed them and rear more to adulthood in just a few short months, further highlighting the expertise of the staff within the popular attraction.
The Spotted lagoon jellyfish (Mastigias papua) can grow 10-30cm in diameter, they can either feed on tiny zooplankton or generate their own food, using sunlight to photosynthesise the algae carried within their body. These jellyfish are strong swimmers and travel the ocean in small swarms following the path of the sun before descending to the depths at nightfall.
Their trailing oral arms are armed with paralysing stinging cells to subdue their prey. Also used to deter predators, these cells are highly irritant and can cause rashes and nausea. Many young fish use this stinging ‘nest’ as a refuge and can often be seen swimming inside these tentacles to steer clear of predators.
Tom Rowe, Senior Aquarist in charge of jellyfish at The Deep said: “It’s great to have new species to work with, especially those, such as this, that are not so easy to culture. It presents a new challenge. Over the years we have successfully managed to breed 8 species of jellyfish, we continue to develop new skills and techniques to understand their biology and educate our visitors about these bizarre and misunderstood creatures.”