Jelly fish or jellies are softbodied, free-swimming aquatic animals with a gelatinous umbrella-shaped bell and trailing tentacles. The bell can pulsate to acquire propulsion and locomotion. The tentacles may be utilized to capture prey or defend against predators by emitting toxins in a painful sting.
Jelly fish species are classified in the subphylum Medusozoa which makes up a major part of the phylum Cnidaria, although not all Medusozoa species are considered to be jellyfish.
Jellyfish are found in every ocean, from the surface to the deep sea. Scyphozoans are exclusively marine, but some hydrozoans live in freshwater. Large, often colorful, jellyfish are common in coastal zones worldwide. Jellyfish have roamed the seas for at least 500 million years, and possibly 700 million years or more, making them the oldest multi-organ animal
As jellyfish squirt water from their mouths they are propelled forward. Tentacles hang down from the smooth baglike body and sting their prey. Jellyfish stings can be painful to humans and sometimes very dangerous.
The popular English name jellyfish has been in use since 1796. It has traditionally also been applied to other animals sharing a superficial resemblance, for example ctenophores (members from another phylum of common, gelatinous and generally transparent or translucent, free-swimming planktonic carnivores now known as comb jellies) were included as “jellyfishes”. Even some scientists include the phylum ctenophora when they are referring to jellyfish. Other scientists prefer to use the more all-encompassing term gelatinous zooplankton, when referring to these, together with other soft-bodied animals in the water column.
As jellyfish are not true fish, which are vertebrates, the word jellyfish is considered by some to be a misnomer. Public aquaria often use the terms jellies or sea jellies instead. The term “jellies” may have become more popular than “jellyfish”. In scientific literature, “jelly” and “jellyfish” are often used interchangeably. Some sources may use the term “jelly” to refer to organisms in this taxon, as “jellyfish” may be considered inappropriate.
Many textbooks and sources refer to only scyphozoans as “true jellyfish”.
A group of jellyfish is sometimes called a bloom or a swarm. “Bloom” is usually used for a large group of jellyfish that gather in a small area, but may also have a time component, referring to seasonal increases, or numbers beyond what was expected. Other collective names for a group of jellyfish are “fluther” and “smack,” though neither term is commonly used by scientists who study jellyfish. Jellyfish are “bloomy” by nature of their life cycles, being produced by their benthic polyps usually in the spring when sunshine and plankton increase, so they appear rather suddenly and often in large numbers, even when an ecosystem is in balance. Using “swarm” usually implies some kind of active ability to stay together, which a few species such as Aurelia, the moon jelly, demonstrate.