“Living Fireworks Show”: The Flower Hat Jelly

The exquisite creatures are in the news and at Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Monterey Bay Aquarium/Randy Wilder

A WONDER TO SEE: Whenever a science buff reads about a new discovery or hears about a fresh finding, they can long, a bit, to see it with their own eyes and feel the wonder in person. Did we say "a bit"? Make that a lot. But it's often the case that the report is coming from a faraway mountain top or a closed lab and there's just no way, and no chance, that we're going to get the audience with the innovation or delightful development that we desire. Every once and awhile, though, the headlines and the chance to see what's afoot dovetail in a rather fantastic way. Take the flower hat jellyfish, or Olindias formosus, if you prefer. The Monterey Bay Aquarium calls its life cycle "elusive" but that didn't daunt a group of intrepid jelly biologists. (Is there any other kind of jelly biologist, though, really?) Scientists had been "unable to culture it to adulthood," even though it was "originally described in Japan" over a century ago. Give anything a hundred years and researchers can usually ferret out some or all of its story, but the flower hat jelly? Nope. It remained ever mysterious.

MYSTERIES GET SOLVED... though, and the jelly biologists of the Cannery Row landmark now stand on a successful discovery. "We're thrilled to discover the life cycle of the flower hat jelly," said Senior Aquarist Wyatt Patry. "Our team succeeded through collaboration, diligence, and a bit of good luck." One positive result of the research? Wild jelly "blooms" could be more easily predicted (a good thing, given that they're described as "dangerous"). But the aquarium has been at the forefront of the flower hat research, from the "special blue lighting" that has allowed scientists to observe the jellies as "polyps and tiny baby jellies" to exhibiting the diaphanous creatures, creatures described by the aquarium as "living fireworks" given their "brilliant tentacles."

WANT TO SEE A FLOWER HAT? You can, in the aquarium's "The Jellies Experience." 

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