Identity card

LATIN NAME: Aurelia aurita

FAMILY: Ulmaridae / Aureliinae

PHYLUM: Cnidaria

This jellyfish lives all the oceans of the world. It is a plankton and at the bottom of the food chain.

The moon jellyfish often moves about on the surface of the water, carried by the currents out at sea or in coastal waters. It is therefore sometimes to be seen in ports. Summer temperatures favour the development of the larvae.

Its diet mainly comprises herring larvae and small crustaceans. It can also eat other jellyfish and even its own larvae. To ensure it can grow and breed, a jellyfish has to consume several times its body weight in food every day.

When fully extended, its umbrella measures 40 cm in diameter.

  • Distribution :

    This jellyfish is widely found in all oceans, except in the very cold waters of the North and South Poles.
  • IUCN Status :

    Not evaluated

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Did you know ?

Find out more about Moon jellyfish

This jellyfish is a translucent bluish-white colour. It has a digestive system between its tentacles, light-sensitive organs, muscles and nerves. It also has stinging cells that deliver poison. At the centre of the umbrella, there is a shape like a four-leaf clover: in males it is a violet colour and in females it is whitish.

95%: The amount of water contained in a jellyfish’s body.

Jellyfish are a type of plankton. Though they usually drift, carried by the currents, they also have a sort of propulsion by reaction. They swim by contracting the umbrella to expel the water. Their muscles then relax and the umbrella opens again. Moon jellyfish float and swim but cannot resist sea currents.

At NAUSICAA, the first baby moon jellyfish were born in 1995.

The lifecycle of a jellyfish has two phases. The first is the fixed phase when the polyp attaches itself to a stone on the seabed. The second, free phase starts when the season changes. The polyp detaches itself from its stone and turns into a mini jellyfish that will then grow into an adult. Following fertilisation between two adult jellyfish, a new larva will be deposited on the seabed and the cycle starts again!




Crédits photo du bandeau : © J.P Sauvaget
Crédits photo de la galerie : © NAUSICAA / © Y.Tavernier

Activities AT NAUSICAA


Every day, there are events focused on Nausicaa’s main species. With training and feeding sessions and talks on life in Europe’s largest aquarium, your visit will be a rich and entertaining experience!
Learn about the life of fishes, hear some surprising stories and enjoy the antics of some amazing animals.

Meet our 58 000 animals