A. aurita is morphologically almost identical to other species of the Aurelia genus (13 spp described to date) making it difficult to identify without genetic testing
Translucent whitish, pinkish or bluish dome with numerous short encircling tentacles and eight simple marginal lobes. Four clover-leaf shaped reproductive organs visble through the translucent dome, white in males and pink in females. Four short frilly oral arms. When young, they have many stripes and spots around the middle of the bell
Most frequently found inshore from the surface down to 20ft (7m). Often occur in large numbers. Mild to moderate sting. The threadlike tentacles around the edge of the bell can sting, and may occasionally catch small swimming animals for food. They feed mostly by trapping microscopic plankton in a film of mucus which flows over the surface of the bell and is picked off as it reaches the edges by the thick mouth tentacles underneath. They maintain position near the surface by pulsing the bell, but do so poorly and are moved by currents.
Fixed, individual sexes (dioecious). Aurelia aurita has two main stages in its life cycle - the polyp stage (asexual reproduction) and the medusa stage (sexual reproduction). A mature polyp reproduces asexually, known as budding forming an entire colony of polyps. Polyps specializing in reproduction produce ephyra (small medusae) by budding. The medusae swim off and mature. They then reproduce sexually. From the egg and the sperm of two medusae, a zygote is formed. The zygote develops into a planula (larva). The planula larva leaves the adult medusae, finds a shaded surface, and attaches itself to it. The planula eventually develops into a new polyp, and the life cycle of the Aurelia aurita starts again.
| Ecological Descriptors