Moon Jellies

Moon Jellies at the Monterey Aquarium

Moon Jellies at the Monterey Aquarium

These alien-looking creatures are named for their translucent, moon like circular bells. They were photographed at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Although they haven’t gotten to the moon yet, thousands of moon jelly polyps, an early stage in the jelly life cycle, went into orbit aboard the space shuttle. They were part of a study on the effects of weightlessness on development of internal organs in juvenile jellies.

Scientists have studied the life cycle of this jelly extensively. They know the adult male moon jelly releases strands of sperm, which are ingested by female moon jellies. After fertilization, larvae settle on or near the seafloor and grow into polyps. Polyps alternate between feeding and reproductive stages for up to 25 years. In the reproductive phase, polyps launch buds of cloned juveniles, which grow into adults.

Instead of long, trailing tentacles, moon jellies have a short, fine fringe that sweeps food toward the mucous layer on the edges of the bells. Prey is stored in pouches until the oral arms pick it up and begin to digest it. Could I have described more alien specie? As their name alludes they would be more believable as a creature from outer space than something native to Earth.

Comets are astronomical bodies that are roughly shaped like jellyfish. They have a bright bell-shaped head and trail a fainter willowy tail. They can also be as delicate as jellies. The comet ISON, named for its discovering body, the International Space Observation Network will round the sun at perihelion this Thanksgiving Day. If the sun’s gravitational forces don’t tear it apart, then in the days and weeks after Thanksgiving, it could become a wonder to behold. Every day after perihelion it will continue to dim, but with each passing day, as it separates from the sun, it will become easier to view in the predawn sky. By Christmas Day it will become a circumpolar object, meaning; that is, it does not rise nor set but remains above the horizon all night long. The day after Christmas, ISON makes its closest approach to the Earth, some 40 million miles away. It will be a faint object then, about half the diameter of the moon.

2 thoughts on “Moon Jellies

Leave a Reply