Deep-sea crown jelly

(Atolla sp.)

This regal resident of the midnight zone has unique adaptations to survive where food is scarce and predators are plentiful.

The deep-sea crown jelly (Atolla sp.) is one of the most common jellies in the ocean’s depths. Most have a distinctive elongated tentacle that can be up to six times the diameter of the jelly’s bell. Scientists suspect that characteristic trailing tentacle helps this jelly capture food. As a hungry Atolla pulses along, that long tentacle snags crustaceans or other prey.

But Atolla is not the only clever hunter in the deep sea. Predators lurk in the darkness, ready to pounce. The bright red bell helps keep Atolla hidden—in the deep sea, red appears black. If Atolla’s crimson camouflage does not work, this jelly sounds the alarm with pinwheels of brilliant blue bioluminescence. A burst of light in the dark water not only disorients predators but it also acts like a burglar alarm telling larger predators there is something interesting happening here. The threat of a bigger predator scares off any immediate danger, allowing the jelly to swim to safety.

Even one of the most common jellies in the deep sea still holds many secrets. Scientists currently recognize around 10 different species of Atolla. However, MBARI researchers recently discovered three varieties of crown jellies that look like Atolla, but lack the telltale trailing tentacle. They have named one of these new species Atolla reynoldsi, in honor of Jeff Reynolds, the first volunteer at MBARI’s education and conservation partner, the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Who knows what other discoveries still await us in the ocean’s mysterious midnight zone?

Fast FactsA bright red deep-sea crown jelly, Atolla wyvillei

Maximum size: 15 centimeters (6 inches) across

Depth: 500–5,000 meters (1,600–16,400 feet)

Habitat: midwater, typically in the midnight (bathypelagic) zone

Range: worldwide

Diet: plankton, including gelatinous zooplankton and crustaceans

Gallery

Research publications

Matsumoto, G.I., L.M. Christianson, B.H. Robison, S.H.D. Haddock, and S.B. Johnson (2022). Atolla reynoldsi sp. nov. (Cnidaria, Scyphozoa, Coronatae, Atollidae): A new species of coronate scyphozoan found in the eastern North Pacific Ocean. Animals, 12(6): 742. doi.org/10.3390/ani12060742

Osborn, D.A., M.W. Silver, C.G. Castro, S.M. Bros, and F.P. Chavez (2007). The habitat of mesopelagic scyphomedusae in Monterey Bay, California. Deep Sea Research Part I, 54(8): 1241-1255. doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr.2007.04.015

Products

Data repository
Data policy
Deep-Sea Guide
What is happening in Monterey Bay today?
Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System
Chemical data
Ocean float data
Slough data
Mooring ISUS measurements
Southern Ocean Data
Mooring data
M1 Mooring Summary Data
M1 Asimet
M1 download Info
M1 EMeter
Molecular and genomics data
ESP Web Portal
Seafloor mapping
Soundscape Listening Room
Upper ocean data
Spatial Temporal Oceanographic Query System (STOQS) Data
Image gallery
Video library
Creature feature
Deep-sea wallpapers
Seminars
Previous seminars
David Packard Distinguished Lecturers
Research software
Video Annotation and Reference System
System overview
Data Use Policy
Knowledgebase
Annotation
Video Tape User Guide
Video File User Guide
Annotation Glossary
Query Interface
Basic User Guide
Advanced User Guide
Results
Query Glossary
FAQ
VARS publications
VARS datasets used in publications
Oceanographic Decision Support System
MB-System seafloor mapping software
How to download and install MB-System
MB-System Documentation
MB-System Announcements
MB-System Announcements (Archive)
MB-System FAQ
MB-System Discussion Lists
MB-System YouTube Tutorials
Matlab scripts: Linear regressions
Introduction to Model I and Model II linear regressions
A brief history of Model II regression analysis
Index of downloadable files
Summary of modifications
Regression rules of thumb
Results for Model I and Model II regressions
Graphs of the Model I and Model II regressions
Which regression: Model I or Model II?
Matlab scripts: Oceanographic calculations
Matlab scripts: Sound velocity
Visual Basic for Excel: Oceanographic calculations
Educational resources
Navigating STEM careers
MBARI Summer Internship Program
2017 Summer Interns Blog
Education and Research: Testing Hypotheses (EARTH)
EARTH workshops
2016—New Brunswick, NJ
2015—Newport, Oregon
2016 Satellite workshop—Pensacola, FL
2016 Satellite workshop—Beaufort, NC
EARTH resources
EARTH lesson plans
Lesson plans—published
Lesson plans—development
Lesson drafts—2015
Lesson drafts—2016 Pensacola
Adopt-A-Float Program
Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE) Science Kits
Science at home: Curriculum and resources
Publications
Sample archive
SciComm Resources