Living Coasts – Torquay’s coastal zoo – is moving some precious specimens to an aquarium in Plymouth, but keepers have to make sure they get the box the right way up.

Upside-down jellyfish
Upside-down jellyfish are effectively floating greenhouses, with algae in their tentacles that makes food using sunlight.

That is because the cassiopea, or upside-down jellyfish, lives, as the name suggests, upside-down.

The aquarium section of the zoo is home to around 195 individuals of 36 species, including 19 fish species. On this occasion, staff are sending 10 jellyfish on the short journey to the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth.

Floating greenhouses

Upside-down jellyfish are effectively floating greenhouses, with algae in their tentacles – lappets, or oral arms – that makes food using sunlight. They have their common name because they live upside-down on the seabed in order to photosynthesise as effectively as possible. The zoo’s aquarium uses specialist lighting to replicate sunshine.

Living Coasts operations manager Clare Rugg said: “They are found in aquariums, but they are not so easy to breed – though we have been very successful. Ours are excellent specimens because of the fresh seawater and specialist lighting here.

“Like a lot of invertebrates, many start life but few survive to adulthood, so it is hard to count the young medusas – but we have raised 35 to full size. We now have around 42 adults.”

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