Creature Feature: Sea Nettle Jellyfish
Welcome to the world of the Pacific Sea Nettle Jellyfish, aka Chrysaora fuscescens. Graceful, flowing with the currents of the sea. Around the world, their habitats and subspecies vary. Locally in Monterey Bay, I love to witness (from a distance) their slow and calm presence. Often you will spot one drifting along on its own. Perhaps they are scattered every 20 feet or so. If the water is clear with sun rays beaming through you can see them in the depths. More rarely there may be a super bloom with hundreds of jellies together at once, brought in by powerful currents.
The sea nettle is a rusty brown color. Though most are smaller, their bell can measure up to 17 inches in diameter and tentacles hang down 12-15 feet. The outer, stinging tentacles will paralyze their prey using specialized cells called nematocysts. Small fish and plankton make their way up to the mouth via the white, frilly oral tentacles.
How is their population impacted by human activities? Our land-based activities may be increasing populations and blooms due to nutrient runoff and temperature changes. This increase can create an imbalance in the delicate food web, reducing the amount of small fish and plankton consumed by the abundant jellies.
To watch them in action, check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium Live Jelly Cam!
Like the painting? The original is available here! Contact me with print inquiries.