With jellyfish season in Australia fast approaching, World Jellyfish Day on today, Tuesday 3rd November is a fitting reminder to those in coastal areas to be aware of the transparent creatures known for their long, stinging tentacles.
Home to Australia’s largest collection of jellyfish, SEA LIFE Mooloolaba is committed to protecting the intriguing species of marine invertebrates that are found in every ocean around the world.
But, while the sight of blubbers bobbing beneath the waves inspires fear in swimmers, the Sunshine Coast attraction wants to spread the message that very few jellyfish are dangerous.
As the world’s oldest multi-organ animals, jellyfish evolved in the world’s oceans more than 650 million years ago – before dinosaurs roamed the Earth. With no brain or nervous system, the body of a jellyfish contains 90 per cent water and is found in many different colours and shapes.
Their size also ranges greatly, from the tiny Irukandji – regarded as the world’s most venomous creature although only the size of a fingernail – to the Lion’s Mane jellyfish, whose tentacles can extend to 36.5 metres.
SEA LIFE Mooloolaba’s Cluster Marketing Manager Krissi Neal said that the ‘Jellyfish Kingdom’ displays hundreds of jellyfish in a colourful, interactive zone, housing five different species including upside down jellies, moon jellies, comb jellies, blue blubbers and sea nettles. Moon jellies are harmless creatures found in Australia’s tropical and temperate waters, while sea nettles are the most dangerous jellyfish in the exhibit.
“We unveiled this exhibit in 2013 following the extensive refurbishment of the attraction, and have been able to bring guests closer to the amazing creatures than ever before by allowing them to behold the myriad colours and shapes of the jellies, as well as discovering first-hand the enchanting ways they float through the water,” she said.
In keeping with SEA LIFE’s strong ethical and environmental values, BREED, RESCUE and PROTECT, the attraction aims to educate the public on the ecological significance of the jellyfish, and the continued need for research and conservation.
“We have installed a successful breeding program that has resulted in the expansion of a wide range of common and rare jellyfish housed at the exhibit,” Ms Neal said.
Jellyfish are also a key component of the diet of sea turtles, whose marine environment is threatened by the impact of human life. To illustrate this, SEA LIFE Mooloolaba has a display in Jellyfish Kingdom resembling a jellyfish but made entirely of plastic bags, forming a stark representation of how turtles can easily confuse litter with their prey.
Jellyfish Fast Facts
- Moon jellies are harmless creatures typically found in tropical and temperate waters, recognisable by their four horseshoe-shaped organs seen through their translucent bodies.
- Unlike other jellies that float wherever the current takes them, upside down jellyfish experience life from another angle by settling their tentacles up and resting their bells on the ground. These amusing creatures are often found in extremely large numbers, carpeting the bottom of lagoons with hundreds of little pulsing bodies.
- SEA LIFE Mooloolaba is one of only a few exhibits in Australia to house comb jellies, recognisable by the rainbow strobe-like effect that appears along the edge of their bodies when they are hit by the sun.
- Sea nettles are the most dangerous jellies in the exhibit with tentacles that can grow up to 4.5 metres in length and can cause a painful sting in humans.
- Blue blubbers are the most common sort of jellyfish found along the Australian coastline, known for their tentacles resembling cauliflower and rhythmically pulsing bell.
For more information about SEA LIFE Mooloolaba, please visit www.underwaterworld.com.au