Box Jellyfish

The Box Jellyfish (Chirodropus sp.) is a marine (saltwater) planktonic scyphozoan in the Chirodropidae family of venomous box jellyfish. It belongs to the Cubozoa class. It is a cnidarian. It is also known as the Sea Wasp.

The medusa form of the Box Jellyfish has a cube-shaped, or box-shaped, bell. From each of the four lower corners hangs short stalks called pedalium which have about 15 slender, hollow tentacles. The rim of the bell is folded inwards to form a shelf known as a velarium. The velarium creates jet propulsion, which makes it move through the water. 

In the centre of the box is a manubrium, which looks like an elephant’s trunk. This is where its mouth is located. Other jellyfish have ocelli, which are light sensing organs, instead of eyes. However, the Box Jellyfish has about 20 ocelli in addition to true eyes, set in a cluster, with retinas, corneas, and lenses. The eyes are located in pockets halfway up the outer, flat surface of the bell.

Box Jellyfish

Its bell grows to about 20 centimetres (8 inches) long. It tentacles can grow up to 300 centimetres (120 inches) long.

It is native to the oceans of Australia and New Zealand. It lives in shallow waters in coastal lagoons.

It moves by jet propulsion. It squeezes the bell shape and pushes water behind it. It is quite fast, at about 7-8 kilometres per hour (5 miles per hour).

It eats small fish and prawns. It catches its prey with its venomous tentacles. It also uses its venomous tentacles to keep away predators, except the Hawksbill Sea Turtle and the Flatback Sea Turtle, which love to eat Box Jellyfish. 

Its venom is dangerous to humans, but the venom does not affect the Sea Turtles.

The female Box Jellyfish holds her eggs in her arms, where they grow into flower-shaped polyps. The polyps are released into the ocean and attach themselves to solid surfaces. The polyps bud to form new polyps. The polyps undergo metamorphosis and grow a bell, arms, and tentacles. When the polyps are fully grown, they release themselves into the water. The adult phase of the Box Jellyfish is called a medusa. 

The Box Jellyfish has a lifespan of about 88 days, which is about 3 months.

Location of photograph: Grant Museum of Zoology, London

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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