One of the most photographed animals at the Aquarium, the Pacific sea nettles, are easily one of the most bizarre creatures on display. These brainless, eye-less creatures are almost 95% water! With no eyes to help detect their food, they rely on light-sensing organs.

Did you know that tomorrow, November 3, is World Jellyfish Day?!

To celebrate, today on Deep Sea Diary, we are going to interview one of our Aquarists, Eric.

Eric is our resident “jelly man.” He has been working with Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada since 2014 and has always been a vital part of our jellyfish husbandry team. He currently takes care of our Pacific sea nettles, moon jellies and works with culturing live foods such as zooplankton.

Eric, aka Jelly Man, is an aquarist at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada.

How did you get involved working with jellyfish?

“It all started with an internship at an aquarium. A lot of my daily tasks required me to work with jellyfish. One day, my supervisor was showing me how to feed sea nettles and he got stung. I asked him what it felt like to be stung and he responded with “Oh, I don’t feel it anymore.” That really lowered my fear of working with jellyfish – I actually got excited and curious about getting stung myself!”

What does it feel like to get stung?

It ranges from an irritating itch to individual pins and needles poking you. The worst one I ever got felt like getting a scratch and then cleaning it with rubbing alcohol for hours.

Moon jellies can grow up to 40cm in diameter and can be found in the Atlantic Ocean. These jellyfish are capable of life cycle reversal, where individuals grow younger instead of older! At Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, we grow our own moon jellies to display in our Life Cycles Exhibit.

What is your favourite part about working with jellyfish?

I think my favourite part is knowing that you can get them super big and beautiful by doing some of the simplest things like feeding them and keeping their exhibit clean. Also cultivating jellyfish is still very new in the aquarium world and being able to learn so much about jellyfish and their niche always keeps me interested.

How is caring for jellyfish different than caring for fish?

Besides the fact that their tanks are round, not square, they also are an animal that can’t communicate with body language or anything. They can respond with certain behaviours such as retracting their arms from water turbulence or pulsing when they encounter a current but otherwise they are animals that most people don’t understand and I enjoy that!

Upside down jellies lie on the bottom of the ocean (upside down) to expose their algae covered arms to the sun. When disturbed, these jellyfish will swim off the bottom of the ocean or excrete stinging cells contained within mucus as a defence.

What is your favourite jellyfish?

Carukia barnesi, also known as Irukandji jellyfish. They are the about size of your pinky finger and can deliver incredibly painful, venomous stings which can result in a powerful sense of impending doom and even death!

If you want to learn all about jellyfish, their care, what they eat and how they work, check out our blog post Jellyfish 101.

Have a question about the Aquarium, or something you would like to see on Deep Sea Diary? Comment below for the chance for your question to be featured in our monthly Q&A post!

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