Crowned jellyfish

A crowned jellyfish in the waters off the Big Island of Hawaii

Conditions weren’t great during a recent swim. Their were ocean swells and an onshore wind made the water choppy. The visibility was only fair, with a lot of coral polyps, the little dots in the photo. But then, literally out of the blue, I saw this crowned or crown jellyfish (Cephea cephea).

There followed a protracted dance where I tried to get close enough to the jellyfish to take a photo, without getting close enough to be stung (though my marine invertebrates book notes ‘The author has handled it with no ill effects.’). This wasn’t easy given the state of the water. The jellyfish just eased up and down quite smoothly, but I was swooshing back and forth with the water. So I’d get myself into a decent position, ready to take a photo, and a swell would propel me in the jellyfish’s direction prompting me to churn the water and head away.

The photos weren’t great because of this toing and froing and the murky water. This is the best of them, which I quite like as it captures the luminosity of the jellyfish as well as showing various parts – the crown with its arms on the top, the tentacles below.

A little later I saw another, smaller one of these. Normally, crowned jellyfish are found in deeper water, but sometimes they’re driven inshore by swells, as I think these two were.


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