JellyFish Facts

Jellyfish Food Chain

Jellyfish Food Chain picture

Jellyfish Food Chain

The jellyfish are carnivorous marine animals which inhabit practically all the oceans of the world. They are delicate creatures with hardly any solid substance in them. Their body is belled shaped and is made up of a gelatinous mass which is 95% water. The jellyfish is a predator and captures its prey with the help of its tentacles, which has the capacity to inject a venom to immobilise the prey. According to the species the venom is different in its potency. The size of a jellyfish will also vary according to its different species, and some can grow more than 2 meters in diameter, while some are only a few centimeters across.

The ocean has a delicate ecosystem and lot of factors play a role in the undersea food chain. Surprisingly, although the jellyfish is so delicate and has hardly any substance, it does play a major role in the food chain. The jellyfish is a hunter as well as the hunted, in the oceans. It mainly feeds on the zooplankton, crusteceans, small fish and the eggs and larvae of other marine creatures. Certain types of jellyfish is known to feed on other jellyfish and their young ones.

Most jellyfish just drift along the ocean's currents and are passive hunters. They will capture a prey when their sticky tentacles come in contact with a sea creature. Their venom is very mild, and this types of jellyfish will mainly feed on tiny organic particles and micro-organisms that stick onto their tentacles. This is called suspension feeding.

The "upside-down jellyfish" is a type of jelly, which is not a predator. It has organisms in its bell that produce food by photosynthesis. These organisms live in a symbiotic relationship with the jellyfish. Every day this jelly will move up from the depths to get sunlight, so that the symbiotic organisms can produce the food.

There are certain types of jellyfish which have a good capacity to swim and are active hunters, and will aggressively chase their prey. These jellyfish have thousands of stinging cells on their tentacles called nematocysts. They have a deadly venom in them which will either paralyse of kill the prey. The tentacles will retract and with the help of the oral arms the jellyfish will deliver the prey to its mouth opening. These jellies have a direct impact on the food chain as they compete for the same food which other predators like the squid, tuna and small sharks, also eat, which is small fishes and crusteceans.

There are creatures in the sea that feed on the jellyfish, like the leather back and loggerhead sea turtles, sunfish, moonfish, swordfish, spadefish, salmon and tuna. Humans also find jellyfish to be a delicacy and these creatures are caught in their thousands by the fishing industry. In season the jellyfish will have a density of hundreds of them in a square meter of seawater.

The bottom line is that the jellyfish has a middle position in the food chain of the marine life in the ocean. Although they lessen the number of micro-organisms, fish larvae and small crustaceans, they are able to feed a number of predatory fish cephalopods and turtles.

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

Written by and Sudarsana Sinha.

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