Open Now : 10:00AM - 05:00 PM

  • Monday : 10:00AM - 05:00 PM
  • Tuesday : 10:00AM - 05:00 PM
  • Wednesday : 10:00AM - 05:00 PM
  • Thursday : 10:00AM - 05:00 PM
  • Friday : 10:00AM - 05:00 PM
  • Saturday : 10:00AM - 05:00 PM
  • Sunday : 10:00AM - 05:00 PM

Meet the Jellyfish that Lives Forever!

In the vast depths of the world’s oceans, a creature with an extraordinary ability silently floats, captivating the curiosity of scientists and enthusiasts alike. The immortal jellyfish, with its mystical name, boasts a unique biological phenomenon that has intrigued marine biologists since its discovery.

In this blog post, we embark on an exploration of this fascinating invertebrate, delving into its discovery, characteristics, and the secrets behind its seemingly eternal life.

What is an immortal jellyfish?

The immortal jellyfish (Turritopsis dohrnii) earns its mesmerising nickname due to its remarkable ability to reverse its ageing process and revert to its juvenile form.

This unique creature belongs to the phylum Cnidaria, which includes a group of small, predatory animals including jellyfish, corals and sea anemone. While it may share similarities with other jellyfish, the immortal jellyfish has distinct capabilities which set it apart as one of the most curious organisms in the ocean.

When was the immortal jellyfish discovered?

First described by scientists in the 1880s, the immortal jellyfish’s extraordinary capabilities were only fully understood in more recent years – in the 1980s to be precise. Student scientists Christian Sommer and Giorgio Bavestrello collected the jellyfish and through experiments, they discovered the immortality of the species, which garnered lots of attention.

Its peculiar ability to revert its lifecycle to its juvenile stage, essentially escaping death, has made it the focus of extensive scientific research. The revelation of its biological immortality has sparked interest not only in the scientific community but also among the broader public intrigued by the mysteries of the natural world.

What do immortal jellyfish look like?

The immortal jellyfish is a delicate and almost transparent creature, making it nearly invisible as it drifts through the ocean currents. It is only around 4.5mm wide and tall, and is likely smaller than your little fingernail! Its body is bell-shaped, and can have anywhere from 8 to 80 white tentacles depending on its age.

Similar to other jellyfish, this species has no central nervous system or brain, as well as no other organs like a heart. This is why jellyfish are usually referred to as simple bodied invertebrates.

How does the immortal jellyfish reverse its lifecycle?

The key to the immortal jellyfish’s unique ability lies in its capacity to undergo a process called transdifferentiation. When faced with unfavourable environmental conditions, stress, or reaching the end of its natural lifecycle, the jellyfish can transform its adult cells into specialised cells, effectively regenerating itself back to its juvenile polyp stage.

This remarkable feat allows the immortal jellyfish to escape death and start its life cycle all over again. What’s more, this process can be repeated over and over again. This is an incredibly rare ability!

Immortal jellyfish habitat

These incredible creatures are thought to have originated in the Mediterranean Sea, but they can be found all around the world, preferring tropical and temperate waters. They often inhabit coastal areas, where conditions are preferable for their survival.

Immortal jellyfish diet

Immortal jellyfish are carnivores, primarily preying on plankton, larvae, fish eggs and other microscopic organisms. Their diet reflects their role in the marine ecosystem, playing a part in the delicate balance of ocean life. However, while they may be able to achieve some form of immortality, they are not protected from the threat of predators! Animals that prey on the immortal jellyfish include turtles, penguins, larger fish, and even larger jellyfish.

Immortal jellyfish vs common jellyfish

While the immortal jellyfish shares similarities with its jellyfish counterparts, several key differences set it apart. One of the most obvious distinctions is its ability to reverse its lifecycle, a feature absent in common jellyfish. Additionally, the immortal jellyfish tends to have a longer lifespan even without regenerating.

Comparing their habitats, common jellyfish can adapt to a broader range of environmental conditions, whereas the immortal jellyfish prefers specific climates, usually warmer coastal waters. These differences highlight the unique variations that occur between species of the same family.

In terms of diet, both the immortal jellyfish and common jellyfish are carnivorous, preying on small marine organisms. However, the immortal jellyfish’s regenerative abilities provide it with a potential advantage in times of scarcity, allowing it to survive conditions that might be fatal for other jellyfish.

For more amazing jellyfish facts, check out our list!

The immortal jellyfish, with its captivating abilities and ethereal presence, stands as a testament to the wonders of the natural world. Its discovery has opened new avenues of research and deepened our understanding of life in the ocean. Don’t forget to book your tickets today to come and see all of our incredible sea creatures for yourself!

Get Bristol Aquarium news and offers right to your inbox!