Chrysaora hysoscella

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Compass jellyfish
Medusa-acquario di Genova.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Cnidaria
Class: Scyphozoa
Order: Semaeostomeae
Family: Pelagiidae
Genus: Chrysaora
Species: C. hysoscella
Binomial name
Chrysaora hysoscella
(Linnaeus, 1766)

Chrysaora hysoscella, also known as the compass jellyfish, is a very common species of jellyfish that lives in coastal waters of the Atlantic and Mediterranean, including near the United Kingdom and Turkey. It has a diameter of up to 30 cm. Its 24 tentacles are arranged in eight groups of three. It is usually colored yellowish white, with some brown.[1]


It occurs in coastal waters all round the British Isles. It is prevalent off the south and west coasts of England and Wales. It has been recorded off the Cumbrian coast, the Isle of Man and off the north coast of Ireland.

It is also known from the southern Atlantic Ocean from the west coast of South Africa and False Bay[2]


Video of the Chrysaora hysoscella (compass jellyfish) from the Monterey Bay Aquarium

The compass jellyfish has a saucer-shaped bell, with 32 semi-circular lobes around the fringe, each one with a brown spot. On the upper surface of the bell, 16 brown V-shaped marks radiate outwards from a dark central spot. The mouth, the only opening to the exterior, is located on the centre of the underside of the bell, and is surrounded by 4 arms.

Compass jellyfish change sex: first they are male, followed after by female. The medusae live mainly off other medusae, comb jellyfish and arrow worms.

It may be confused with the common jellyfish Aurelia aurita when stranded. Aurelia aurita however, has shorter tentacles with no brown v-shaped markings on the bell. Instead it has 4 purplish-blue horseshoe shaped gonads that are easily distinguished through the upper surface of the bell. The stinging cells and venom of Chrysaora hysoscella are strong and can produce painful, long lasting weals in humans.[3]


  1. ^ Basic information for Chrysaora hysoscella (Compass jellyfish), accessed March 14, 2008
  2. ^ Jones, Georgina. A field guide to the marine animals of the Cape Peninsula. SURG, Cape Town, 2008. ISBN 978-0-620-41639-9
  3. ^ "UK jellyfish".