People and Places
Jellyfish are the Uber of the sea
by Josie Jones

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Josie close up and personal with a jellyfish.

Turtles are not the No.1 creature we think of when we think of Port Phillip. However, turtles do inhabit our bay during migration times, and they include the pacific ridley turtle, the leatherback turtle, the loggerhead turtle and also the green turtle.

It is suggested that the turtles come into the bay lured by the mass of jellyfish floating in currents. Port Phillip in winter is home to many jellyfish, which are a food source for turtles. They also act as free rides for species such as the argonaut, or paper nautilus, which is known to be a lazy swimmer and catches a ride on top of a jellyfish, saving its energy to catch unsuspecting prey and using its energy in creating its shell, avoiding the hard work.

The following jellyfish inhabit Port Phillip: Haeckel’s jellyfish, which we commonly see washed up after a north wind; the jelly blubber, also known as the blue blubber jellyfish, which is commonly seen from Searoad Ferries; comb jellies, which are an incredible dome of electronic pulsing colours; and lion’s mane jellies, which are a delight to see in numbers because they are relatively small in comparison to their Arctic cousins. They are usually 25cm across but can be up to a metre across. They are an incredible subject for underwater photographer enthusiasts.

Sea jellies often have symbiotic relationships with many other animals as they swim through the ocean, including juvenile fish, brittle stars, sea anemones, crabs and other species mentioned. Jellies help to support biodiversity in the ocean. Juvenile fish such as mosaic leatherjackets seek protection from predators by swimming among the tentacles of sea jellies. The brittle stars and sea anemones also hitch a ride to a new location, as seen in other species such as seahorses catching a ride on the tail of a smooth ray.

The ocean is an incredible world to explore and all of this is on our doorstep of Port Phillip.


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