Pacific Sea Nettle

Pacific Sea Nettle (Chrysaora fuscescens) as seen in our Coastal Waters exhibit.

When you visit our Coastal Waters exhibit, you may have to wait a moment or two to get close to the Sea Nettle display. Perhaps one of the most popular habitats in the gallery, these large jellyfish seem to have the ability to hypnotize us with their rhythmic undulations and the graceful spread of their lacy tentacles.

Although jellyfish like the Sea Nettle can propel themselves using a form of jet propulsion where they squeeze water through the bells of their bodies, they cannot move quickly or pursue other animals. They must feed as they drift on the ocean’s currents, spreading their tentacles out like nets to catch fish and other unsuspecting prey. Once an animal has been immobilized by the Sea Nettle’s sting, special tentacles called “oral arms” begin digesting it even before it has reached the jellyfish’s mouth. Despite this potent sting, Sea Nettles present no real danger to human beings and are often eaten by seabirds and large fish.

Range & Habitat

Pacific Sea Nettles are particularly abundant off the Oregon and California coasts. In recent years, their numbers appear to be increasing dramatically which may be due to climate change.

Conservation Status