Atolla jellyfish

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Atolla jellyfish
Atolla wyvillei (Operation Deep Scope 2004).jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Cnidaria
Class: Scyphozoa
Order: Coronatae
Family: Atollidae
Genus: Atolla
A. wyvillei
Binomial name
Atolla wyvillei

Atolla wyvillei, also known as the Atolla jellyfish or Coronate medusa, is a species of deep-sea crown jellyfish (Scyphozoa: Coronatae).[2] It lives in oceans around the world.[3] Like many species of mid-water animals, it is deep red in color. This species was named in honor of Sir Charles Wyville Thomson, chief scientist on the Challenger expedition.

It typically has 20 marginal tentacles and one hypertrophied tentacle which is larger than the rest.[4] This long trailing tentacle is thought to facilitate prey capture.[5]

This species is bioluminescent.[6] When attacked, it will launch a series of flashes, whose function is to draw predators who will be more interested in the attacker than itself. This has earned the animal the nickname "alarm jellyfish".[7]

Marine biologist Edith Widder created a device based on the Atolla jellyfish's distress flashes called the E-jelly, which has been used successfully and efficiently to lure in mysterious and rarely seen deep-sea animals for filming and documentation. The device's mimicry of the live animal was such that it successfully lured in a giant squid in an expedition financed by Discovery Channel and NHK to find the creature.[8]


The body of Atolla wyvillei has a bell shape, of around 20–174 mm (0.79–6.85 in) in diameter, and is rimmed by several moderately long tentacles,[clarification needed] including a single, long, hypertrophied tentacle, which has several purposes, including aid in predation as well as aid in reproduction. These jellyfish do not have a digestive system, a respiratory system, a circulatory system, or a central nervous system.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Atolla wyvillei is found all over the globe in the deep ocean. There has been evidence of them found in The deep ocean in a depth from 1,000 to 4,000 m (3,300 to 13,100 ft), an area commonly called the “Midnight Zone” (Unknown, 2013).

Behavior and ecology[edit]


Atolla wyvillei can reproduce in two different ways. They can reproduce asexually like many other jellyfish species. This process involves the development into polyps that then produce buds that grow into larvae. Atolla wyvillei can also reproduce sexually. They attach themselves to another Atolla wyvillei by grabbing them with their hypertrophied tentacle and pulling themselves toward the other to mate.


Atolla wyvillei have been found to prey on crustaceans and other floating nutrients. Atolla wyvillei can trap its prey through the use of its hypertrophied tentacle. It can passively catch its prey by leaving the tentacle extended and allow it to catch things that may be floating nearby.


Bioluminescence is the production of visible light by a living organism (Herring 2004). Bioluminescence is a common phenomenon in marine animals found in the deep sea. Atolla wyvillei has adapted a safety response to avoid predation. When Atolla wyvillei is attacked it produces an array of blue light flashes. The propagation rate of these flashes are 5–50 cm/s (2.0–19.7 in/s) and they propagate in circular waves (Herring 2004). It is because of these blue flashes that Atolla wyvillei has been nicknamed the “alarm jelly”. It is believed that the purpose of these flashes is to attract a bigger predator than the one that was currently attacking it (Herring 2004). It is an attempt to scare the predator that is currently attacking it with a larger predator that could possibly prey on the predator attacking it.[9]


There has been evidence that Atolla wyvillei is threatened by shrimp (Moore, 1993). A close relative of Atolla species, the crown jellyfish is eaten as a delicacy in Japan (Seaunseen, 2014).


  1. ^ "Atolla Haeckel, 1880". WoRMS. World Register of Marine Species. 2011. Retrieved January 20, 2012.
  2. ^ Cornelius, P. (2012). "Atolla wyvillei". World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved December 17, 2012.
  3. ^ Russell, F.S., (1970) The medusae of the British Isles. II. Pelagic Scyphozoa with a supplement to the first volume on Hydromedusae. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 284.
  4. ^ Boltovskoy, D. (1999). "South Atlantic Marine Zooplankton". Marine Species Identification.
  5. ^ Hunt, J. C. & D. J. Lindsay, (1998) Observations on the behavior of Atolla (Scyphozoa: Coronatae) and Nanomia (Hydrozoa: Physonectae): use of the hypertrophied tentacle in prey capture. Plankton Biology and Ecology, 45, pp. 239-242.
  6. ^ Herring, P. J. & E. A. Widder, (2004) Bioluminescence of deep-sea coronate medusae (Cnidaria: Scyphozoa). Marine Biology, 146: pp. 39-51.
  7. ^ Widder, E.A. "Eye in the Sea". Operation Deep Scope 2005. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  8. ^ Widder, Edith (2013). "How We Found The Giant Squid". Translated by Joseph Geni, Reviewed by Morton Bast. TED.
  9. ^ M. Daly; M. R. Brugler; P. Cartwright; A. G. Collins; M. N. Dawson; D. G. Fautin; S. C. France; C. S. McFadden; D. M. Opresko; E. Rodrigues; S. L. Romanos & J. L. Stakes (2007). Z.-Q. Zhang & W. A. Shear (eds.). "Linnaeus Tercentenary: Progress in Invertebrate Taxonomy" (pdf). Zootaxa. 1668: 127–182.
  • Herring, P. J., (2004). Bioluminescence of deep-sea coronate medusae (Cnidaria: Scyphozoa. Springer-Verlag, 39-51.
  • Moore, P. G.; Rainbow, P. S.; Larson, R. J. (1 October 1993). "The Mesopelagic Shrimp Notostomus Robustus Smith (Decapoda: Oplophoridae) Observed in Situ Feeding on the Medusan Atolla Wyvillei Haeckel in the Northwest Atlantic, With Notes on Gut Contents and Mouthpart Morphology". Journal of Crustacean Biology. 13 (4): 690–696. doi:10.1163/193724093X00255. JSTOR 1549099.

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