Posts Tagged 'jellyfish'



Animal Updates – March 1

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

Hairy Jellies!

These jellies get their name from the fringe of fine, hair-like tentacles that grace the bottom edge of their bell.

hairy jelly

The red dots also seen along the bell’s edge of a hairy jelly are its “eyespots.” These clusters of photo-sensitive cells can differentiate between light and dark.

Hair jellies are native to the shallow coastal waters of the north Pacific!

These jellies are currently behind-the-scenes in our jellies lab, but will be on exhibit soon!

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out what’s happening!

Animal Update – October 26

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

animal update

Juvenile Nautilus 

Several new small chambered nautilus have been added to the nautilus tank in our Sensing gallery. The larger, older nautilus was removed and placed in backup while the new ones undergo a quarantine period.

chambered nautilus

Chambered nautilus

Did you know the nautilus is considered to be a “living fossil”? This species has undergone little change in more than 400 million years! The nautilus dominated the ancient seas before the rise of fishes, and appeared about 265 million years before the first dinosaurs. In prehistoric times, there were about 10,000 different species of the nautilus, but only a few species survived to the present.

Moon Jellies!

Ten beautiful new moon jellies have been added to our Jellies gallery at National Aquarium, Washington DC.

moon jellies

These jellies were actually born at our Baltimore location! The moon jellies are our most prolific species, meaning they produce the most offspring. We are able to control culturing life-cycle stages through manual temperature manipulation at our jellies lab. Petri dishes covered in polyps (sedentary stage) of this species spend three weeks in a refrigerator.

juvenile jelly

Juvenile moon jelly

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out what’s happening!

Jelly Swarm Invades Pier 4

A new swarm of jellies has invaded the National Aquarium’s Baltimore venue… and they’re right over your head!

The Jelly Swarm is an original art installation in the Aquarium’s Pier 4 atrium, just outside the entrance to the Jellies Invasion: Oceans Out of Balance exhibit. Our Exhibits & Design team worked with Stephen Seigel, who created the jelly lights for Seattle’s Experience Music Project, to develop their design concept. They then went to Dillon Works for final design, fabrication, and installation of the piece, which was installed this week.

 

More than 600 individually painted jellies in seven different shapes and textures comprise the piece, made of vacuum-formed polycarbonate. Altogether, it weighs more than 1,000 pounds.

Here’s a description of the concept from the designers:

As guests approach the Pier 4 atrium they’re greeted by hundreds of translucent, iridescent jellies that sweep down through the space. Crossing the balcony to the stairs they walk under the swarm. The colors shift in the sunlight and the jellies move gently with the currents of air. Following the flow of the jellies, guests descend the stairs and come under the swarm. Soft colors and shadows animate the whole atrium.

This art installation was supported by a donation from an anonymous donor, and was inspired by the many qualities of jellies that intrigue us—their translucent beauty, graceful pulsing movements, otherworldliness, and massive numbers.

Come to the Aquarium soon to see both The Jelly Swarm and the real jellies in our exhibit!

Animal Updates – April 13

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our WATERlog blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

Baby Spotted Lagoon Jellies
Mastigias papua 

Our jellies lab welcomed a special delivery from the Oklahoma Aquarium: baby lagoons! They’re about a month and a half old right now, and we’ve never had this species this young before. Right now, they’re developing and growing in our jellies lab, and once they reach about four or five months old they’ll be big enough to go on exhibit.

Baby lagoon jelly

Right now they look just like tiny blue blubber jellies, but as they grow, they’ll develop spots and lose their bluish tint. Since they arrived, they’ve already started to sprout tentacles, and spots are appearing along the edges of the bells.

Jelly's first tentacle!

Quite a bit goes into giving these jellies what they need to grow and thrive. They have a high metabolism, so they’re fed at least three times a day, sometimes more. These sun-loving jellies are kept under a special metal halide light, which is a different spectrum than regular lights. Spotted lagoon jellies have a symbiotic relationship with the algae that live in them; the algae need the light to photosynthesize, and the jellies eat the waste products the algae make in the process.

Older spotted lagoon jelly

Breeding Season for Sand Tiger Sharks
Carcharias taurus
You may see staff members observing and monitoring the behavior of the sand tiger sharks in our Open Ocean exhibit. It’s breeding season for these sharks, and sometimes the males can get a bit aggressive.

Sand tiger shark

Did you know? Female sand tiger sharks do not have the expected single uterus – each female has two, and babies develop in both at the same time. In each separate uterus, the unborn pups eat each other and devour any still-unfertilized eggs until only one remains. Eventually one baby is born from each uterus – talk about survival of the fittest!

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out what’s happening!

30 fascinating fish facts

2011 marks the National Aquarium’s 30th anniversary year—a year that will honor the Aquarium’s successful past and highlight its future as a leader in global conservation and aquatic health. Turning 30 also gives us an excuse to celebrate, have fun, and create this list of 30 fascinating fish facts for your cerebral pleasure!

1. Fish are cold-blooded, which means their internal body temperature changes as the surrounding temperature changes.

2. About 96% of fish are bony fish. The rest are cartilaginous fish, like sharks, skates, and rays.

Electric eel

Electric eel

3. Electric eels can discharge up to 550 volts, using their shock as an offense for catching food or a defense to escape.

4. Only the front 1/5 of an electric eel contains vital organs. These are located directly behind its head. The rest of the body is comprised of organs that produce electricity.

5. Arowana have the ability to jump out of the water to catch prey such as insects, birds, and bats.

6. More species of fish are found in the Amazon River than in all of Europe.

7. Gar are known as “living fossils,” as their remains have been found dating back to the Cretaceous period.

8. The female seahorse transfers the eggs to the male’s pouch, where they are incubated until birth.

Red lionfish

Red lionfish

9. Red lionfish are beautiful in the aquarium, but potentially devastating to the Atlantic Ocean, as the first successfully invasive species.

10. The northern snakehead has the ability to gulp air and absorb oxygen through a modified swim bladder that functions much like a lung. This ability allows the snakehead to travel across land to move into new bodies of water.

11. Piranhas hunt in large groups called shoals, or packs.

12. The largest fish in the world is the whale shark, which can grow up to 41 feet long.

13. Baby sharks are called pups.

14. The sand tiger shark is the only shark known to adjust its buoyancy by burping—gulping and expelling air at the surface. This strategy allows the shark to hover nearly motionless in the water column.

Seven-spot archerfish

Seven-spot archerfish

15. The archerfish is named for its peculiar adaptation of shooting a stream of water like an arrow at its unsuspecting prey—a tasty insect perched on a branch above the water.

16. The male banggai cardinalfish incubates the eggs in his mouth and continues to hold the young within his mouth cavity after hatching to further protect them.

17. Feather blennies lay their eggs in empty oyster shells. These territorial predators use their strong jaws to snap up and eat small fish and crustaceans that venture too close to the oyster shells.

18. The green moray eel is really brown! The yellow tint of the mucus that covers its body, in combination with the drab background color, gives the fish its characteristic uniform green color.

19. Southern stingrays have a “live birth,” meaning that the eggs hatch within the mother’s body. The pups, up to 10 in a litter, average 9 inches across at birth. Before their live birth, stingrays’ “wings” are curled up like crepes.

20. Burrfish are covered with short, heavy spines that are always erect, unlike their cousins the porcupinefish, which have movable spines.

Porcupine fish

Porcupine fish

21. When feeling threatened, pufferfish quickly ingest water to inflate their bodies into a ball several times their normal size.

22. Flounders and sole are fish with both eyes on the same side of their head. One eye actually migrates to the other side during larval development. Like most flatfishes, these bottom-dwellers can change the color patterns on their skin to blend in with their environment. They bury themselves in the sand and, with both eyes facing up, wait to ambush unsuspecting prey.

23. Jellies have been around for more than 500 million years—they pre-date dinosaurs!

24. The lined seahorse is the only seahorse found in the Chesapeake Bay. It camouflages itself by developing leafy appendages and changing colors.

Clownfish

Clownfish

25. In a group of clownfish, there is a strict dominance hierarchy. The largest and most aggressive female is found at the top.

26. Clownfish and sea anemones have a symbiotic relationship. The sea anemone protects the clownfish from predators, as well as providing food through the scraps left from the anemone’s meals. In return, the clownfish defends the anemone from its predators and cleans it from parasites.

27. Some catfish create saucer-shaped nests by fanning the river or lake bottom with their tails. Several thousand eggs are deposited in the nest and are guarded until they hatch.

28. The toothless catfish is not really toothless. It has teeth in the back of its mouth. This bottom-feeder vacuums through the sand to find its food.

29. The Australia grunter fish is so named because it emits an audible grunting sound when handled out of the water.

Barramundi

Barramundi

30. Barramundi, a giant perch found in Australia, changes sex as it grows up, starting as a male. Upon reaching 19.7 inches in length, it become female. These fish can grow to up to 6.5 feet long!

What’s behind the sting?

This weekend marks the start official start of beach season! Every year around this time we start to hear more about jellies because people see them while visiting beaches and swimming in oceans. But unfortunately, the interactions we tend to have with jellies in the ocean are not very pleasant ones.

Recently, a young girl from Australia was the chatter among medical experts around the world for her amazing recovery from a “deadly” jellyfish sting. We all know that jellies have the power to inflict pain to us humans, and have heard that some jellies can even be deadly.  So is her survival of a box jelly sting a miracle?

Box jellies are not a part of the Jellies Invasion exhibit, so our experts don’t have to deal with them on a daily basis. But when asked, Aquarist Vicky Poole said, “As this is a creature with one of the most toxic venoms in the world, I’d say it was a miracle.”

The odds of surviving a severe box jelly envenomation is extremely rare. Box jelly stings have a 20% mortality rate, which includes both severe and mild cases, but the extent of the sting, covering her entire leg, is what makes her survival such a surprise for her doctors.

So what’s behind the sting? Jellies are animals without brains (or hearts, for that matter), so there is no “decision” about stinging. They indiscriminately will sting anything they happen to bump into – prey (for food) or predator (for defense). Vicky reminds us that it’s really their survival strategy…sting first and ask no questions later!

What happens when a jelly stings? Their tentacles have tiny microscopic stinging cells called “nematocysts” that look like fishing harpoons with barbs that penetrate our skin, and then stay in place while the venom is injected into the body of the victim. There is often pain at the site, and usually you’ll notice localized swelling or welts due to the skin’s reaction to the toxins. Depending on the species of jelly, the body’s reaction will vary in severity, and some people have a more severe reaction than others. In extremely toxic species, severe reactions may involve difficulty breathing, coma, or even death.

Let’s bust some myths – can anything really treat a sting? Although weak acids (like vinegar) and very hot water have been reportedly used to neutralize jelly stings, your body will still react to the venom in your system so pain management is needed. And if you’re in areas where dangerous species of jellies exist, Vicki suggests that you seek medical attention immediately. After all, she’s no doctor, just a humble jelly aquarist!

Even though these brainless, heartless creatures instill fear among beach-goers around the world, they are truly fascinating creatures that are an important part of our marine ecosystem. This summer before you hit the beach, we invite you learn more about jellies. You can start by exploring the Jellies Invasion: Oceans Out of Balance website!

Have you had your jelly fix?

We’ve partnered with Dunkin Donuts so you can See Jelly, and Eat Jelly! It’s one sweet deal. Check it out:


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