5 Types of Jellyfish

glowing jellyfish
© LanKS/Shutterstock.com

Written by Heather Hall

Published: November 18, 2022

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Jellyfish are small marine creatures that are beautiful, unique, and sometimes dangerous. Scientists are recording new types of jellyfish all the time. So far, there are 2,000 different types of known jellyfish. They all serve a distinct purpose and have different characteristics. They are graceful, colorful, and fascinating to watch. We will discuss five types of jellyfish below. 

Box Jellyfish

As their name implies, box jellyfish have cube-shaped bodies. From each corner of the cube hangs a long tentacle. The rim of the cube curves inward slightly and can expand and contract, creating a water-powered jet to propel the jellyfish along quickly. They can move up to 20 feet per minute! 

The cube part of a box jellyfish is about 10 inches, and the pale blue tentacles grow up to 10 feet. Each tentacle has up to five thousand stinging cells. In the wild, a box jellyfish lives for up to three months.

They are highly dangerous. In fact, they are the most venomous jellyfish, and their venom can be fatal to humans. Interestingly, they do not drift about like other jellyfish but rather actively chase their dinner. They eat mostly bait fish and prawns. 

World's Deadliest Jellyfish - Box Jellyfish

Box jellyfish are the most venomous jellyfish, and their venom can be fatal to humans.

©Danza/Shutterstock.com

Cauliflower Jellyfish 

The cauliflower jellyfish is also known as the crown jellyfish because of its unique shape. This species of jellyfish is not dangerous. In fact, many people in China and Japan eat it as a delicacy. These creatures use their venom to sting their prey. However, their venom is not dangerous or deadly to humans. 

This jellyfish is a lovely blueish-purple color, covered in bumps and lumps; it does in fact look like a blue cauliflower drifting through the sea. 

They reproduce in the same way as other jellyfish, by releasing eggs and sperm into the water. Afterward, the eggs form free-swimming larvae that attach themselves to a rock or reef to grow.

 Cauliflower jellies are 7 inches tall and 7 inches wide and have eight tentacles. They are most comfortable living at depths of 3,000 feet and use illumination to scare off predators. They live for six months. 

cauliflower jellyfish

A cauliflower jellyfish is a lovely blueish-purple color; it does in fact look like a blue cauliflower drifting through the sea. 

©SaltedLife/Shutterstock.com

Lion’s Mane Jellyfish

The lion‘s mane jellyfish has many other names – giant jelly, arctic red jellyfish, and hair jelly, to name a few. It is one of the larger species of jellyfish, with a bell up to 20 inches in diameter. The bell has eight lobes and looks like a gelatinous star. Each of the lobes has up to 150 tentacles! The many tentacles resemble long, flowing red hair. These can grow up to 100 feet long! The largest lion’s mane jellyfish had a 7-foot bell and 120-foot-long tentacles. Wow!

The lion’s mane jellyfish uses those long lovely tentacles to pull in prey. As you can imagine, such long tentacles catch a large amount of food. They eat fish, sea creatures, smaller jellyfish, and zooplankton.

They live near the ocean’s surface, so they are easy to spot. However, they do not travel in schools but prefer to be solitary creatures. They use slow pulsations to propel themselves forward, using the ocean currents to their advantage. 

Lion’s mane jellyfish are not deadly to humans, although their stings are painful. Stings cause burning and redness. If a lion’s mane stings a significant portion of your body, you should seek medical attention. 

Lion’s Mane Jellyfish

The many tentacles of the Lion’s Mane resemble long, flowing red hair.

©Martin Prochazkacz/Shutterstock.com

Mauve Stinger Jellyfish

The mauve stinger is a member of the Pelagiidae family and is also known as the purple-striped jelly and night-light jellyfish. This wonderful creature uses bioluminescence to glow in the dark! They produce a flashing light at night that is stimulated by the movement of the waves. 

Mauve stinger jellies are on the small side, with a bell between 2 and 5 inches across. They are many shades of purple, pink, and even a brownish brick red. They have four appendages called oral arms. The arms look like thick tentacles that pull food into their mouth. In addition to these four oral arms, they have eight long tentacles. 

They can sting, and their stings leave scars. Their tentacles and bell include cells that cause pain, redness, and swelling for up to two weeks. If you encounter a mauve jellyfish, you may experience dizziness, vomiting, and diarrhea. However, no fatalities have been reported. 

These animals are opportunistic feeders and will swallow about any marine life they come across as they gently flow with the current. They eat plankton, worms, fish eggs, crustaceans, and others. These jellyfish live for about nine months. 

Mauve stinger jellyfish

Mauve stinger jellyfish is also called the purple-striped jellyfish.

©macronatura.es/Shutterstock.com

Atolla Jellyfish

The atolla jelly is a deep-sea species of crown jellyfish. It is a lovely deep red color and has 20 tentacles. It also has one tentacle that trails much longer than the rest, which it uses to sting and capture prey. Their bell is eight inches in diameter, and the tentacles can be up to 12 feet long. 

When attacked, the atolla jellyfish uses bioluminescence to flash a series of alarms. This flashing light attracts larger predators that will consume whoever is trying to eat the atolla. When the larger predator arrives, the atolla turns completely black and becomes invisible.  

atolla jellyfish

Atolla jellyfish are a lovely deep red color, and they have 20 tentacles.

©NOAA Ocean Explorer_Operation Deep Scope 2004: Eye-in-the-Sea Bioluminescence/CCBYSA2.0 – Original / License

Incredible Jellyfish Facts

  • Jellyfish have been around since before dinosaurs!
  • They do not have hearts, bones, or brains. Most jellyfish do not have eyes.
  • Jellyfish have to digest their food very quickly. Otherwise, the food weighs them down and they are unable to float. 
  • Sea turtles love to eat jellyfish. It is one of their favorite foods. 
  • If you see a jellyfish washed up on the beach, don’t touch it. Some jellyfish can sting you even after they are dead!
  • A group of jellyfish is a smack, bloom, or swarm. 
  • Jellyfish are made up of 95 percent water. 
  • Some jellyfish can regrow a severed tentacle.
  • One box jellyfish has enough venom to kill 60 people. 
  • The myths about how to treat a jellyfish sting (urine, meat tenderizer, lemon juice, alcohol) do not work. 
  • Vinegar can help remove jellyfish that are attached to your skin. As long as they are touching you, they will continue to sting. 
  • Climate change is warming the oceans and increasing the numbers of jellyfish. 

Summary of 5 Types of Jellyfish

  • Box Jellyfish
  • Cauliflower Jellyfish
  • Lion’s Mane Jellyfish
  • Mauve Stinger Jellyfish
  • Atolla Jellyfish

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About the Author

Heather Hall is a writer at A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on plants and animals. Heather has been writing and editing since 2012 and holds a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture. As a resident of the Pacific Northwest, Heather enjoys hiking, gardening, and trail running through the mountains with her dogs.

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