JellyFish Facts

Jellyfish Classification

Jellyfish Classification picture

Jellyfish Classification

Jellyfish are fascinating creatures and they are not actually a fish. They are animals which are delicate and soft bodied and come under Animalia classification under Kingdom. They do not have a skeleton or a shell that can support or protect them. The water body in which they live provides their body the required structural support. Out of water a jellyfish will collapse and die.

Scyphozoa is the class to which a jellyfish belongs. There are 200 species of jellyfish, and these are subdivided into five orders, which are Coronatae, Rhizostomeae, Rhizostomatida, Semaeostomeae and Stauromedusae.

Phylum Cnidaria is a group of animals which includes jellyfish, corals, hydras and sea anemones. Members of this group are symmetrical in shape. If you observe a jellyfish, it does not appear to have a left or right side, and will appear the same from every angle.

The upper part of the jellyfish is known as the bell and its shape will vary according to the different species. It might be round, flat or oval in shape. On the underside of the bell is the mouth of the jellyfish, which opens into a cavity inside the bell, which is gastrovascular in nature. The outer layer of the bell is made up of cells called the epidermis, and the cavity within the bell has a layer of cell called the gastrodermis. Between these layers is the mesoglea; a substance like jelly which gives the jellyfish its bulk and shape. The bottom edge of the bell has thin tentacles. All species have a different number and size of tentacles. The mouth of the jellyfish has four or eight arms, that trail down.

Initially the jellyfish is a free-swimming Planula, that drops to the sea floor after a few days. Here it attaches itself to a hard surface, and becomes a Polyp, that divides and buds to form a colony. After that the Polyp will shed tiny Medusa which will mature into a jellyfish. The Medusa is the dominant and most familiar form of the jellyfish. The mature jellyfish will then reproduce sexually, to form new Planulae, thus completing the life cycle. The life span of jellyfish is of a few weeks, but some are known to have lived past a year as well.

Jellyfish feed on small fish, invertebrates and zooplankton, and are carnivores. They capture their prey with their tentacles. These tentacles have specialized cells which fire poisonous barbs or threads into the prey, immobilizing them. These barbs are contained in organelles, which are also called Nematocysts. Then with the help of its arms around its mouth the jellyfish will ingest its prey.

In oceans throughout the world, there are different types of jellyfish. The most common are the Moon Jelly, the Lion's Mane Jelly and the Sea Nettle. Certain species prefer the cold, while other prefer the warm waters of the ocean. Different jellyfish inhabit the ocean at various depths. Some are found on shallow inshore waters, while others like the deeper depths. There are a few who surface during the day, and at night drop down to the depths.

Learn more about Jellyfish, different Jellyfish Species, general Jellyfish Information, Jellyfish Pets and Jellyfish Safety

Written by and Sudarsana Sinha.

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