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What type of jellyfish were those at Wrightsville and Figure Eight on Oct. 30, 2013?

A moon jellyfish. Photo courtesy of the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

Moon jellyfish. Photo courtesy of the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

Q. On Oct. 30, there were lots of jellyfish washed up on Wrightsville Beach and Figure Eight Island. I have walked the beach my whole life and never seen this type. They are flatter and larger than the usual cabbage heads and have an unusual reddish/pink design on the underside. Would love to know more about them.

A. “Based on this description and the known local species of jellyfish, the beachgoer may be describing moon jellies,” Robin Nalepa, a spokeswoman for the N.C. Aquarium at Ft. Fisher, said via email. “Moon jellies (Aurelia aurita) are named for their translucent, moonlike circular bells. The coloration noted is dependent on the animal’s diet, which consists primarily of tiny animals, or zooplankton. The sting of a moon jelly is generally mild for humans, if felt at all, due to the small size of the stinging cells. Adult moon jellies can grow up to 15 inches in diameter. In an early stage of growth, the animal, in polyp form, can wait for years for the best conditions to reproduce. Moon jellies are an important food source for many ocean animals, including sea turtles. Jellies of all kinds are seen on local beaches because they move wherever the ocean waves and currents take them.”

The aquarium has several moon jellies on display, Nalepa said.

RELATED LINKS:

When jellyfish beach themselves, are they still able to sting and for how long?

Why were more than 100 dead jellyfish on the beach at the south end of Wrightsville Beach?

Are box jellyfish found in these waters? Are they more dangerous than other kinds we see?

Should I get someone to urinate on me if I have a jellyfish sting?

 

User-contributed question by:
Carol Davis

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