E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Aurelia labiata Chamisso and Eysenhardt, 1821
Moon Jellyfish
Family: Ulmaridae

Photo of species

© Aaron Baldwin  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #11435)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Aurelia labiata in British Columbia
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The Moon Jelly is found in bays and harbours along the Pacific coastline of North America, from Prince William Sound, Alaska, south to southern California (Gershwin (2001)). Three morphologically distinctive forms have been identified, and it is possible that the second BC Aurelia species, A. limbata, may be "simply a color morph of A. labiata, or a species within a yet-unelaborated A. labiata species complex." Gershwin 2001).

The systematics and biogeography of this species are reviewed in detail by Gershwin 2001.

Species Information

Moon jellies get their name from their translucent, moonlike, circular bells. The colour of the bells varies with diet. Moon jellies differ from other species in that they lack tentacles and instead food is captured on the mucous of the bell. This species occurs in aggregations (Purcell 2003).



Medusae are known to prey on zooplankton (copepods, larvaceans and cladocerans, and also a variety of meroplankton) and some fish larvae (Purcell 2003). Medusae of this species are also reported to have major impact on Atlantic herring yolk-sac larvae in the Baltic Sea. (Lynam 2010). This species is reported by Purcell (2003) to consume mostly hard-bodied prety (e.g. crustaceans).


The Monterey Bay Aquarium provides the following information on reproduction in moon jellies: “the adult male moon jelly releases strands of sperm, which are ingested by female moon jellies. After fertilization, larvae settle on or near the seafloor and grow into polyps. Polyps alternate between feeding and reproductive stages for up to 25 years. In the reproductive phase, polyps launch buds of cloned juveniles, known as ephyrae, which grow into adult medusae.” (Monterey Bay Aquarium 2010). This species has been observed to migrate directionally in British Columbia, and maintain breeding aggregations in isolated inlets (Dawson and Jacobs 2001).


Life span in this species in Roscoe Bay, BC, was estimated by Albert (2005) as greater than one year, with 40% likely living two years or longer. Medusae remain in the sheltered Roscoe Bay throughout the year, with some lost from the bay as a result of tidal flushing: juvenile medusae in this study formed 30-40% of the population. Population densities in Japan have been estimated as 13.4 medusae m–3 (Purcell 2003).


Moon jellies feed in quiet bays and harbors.


Global Range:

This species is found along the Pacific Coast of North America, from Alaska south to California, and possibly to Baja, California.

BC Range:

Moon Jellies are found along the BC coast.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Aurelia aurita (Linnaeus, 1758)
Aurelia flavidula Peron & Lesueur, 1809
Medusa aurita Linnaeus, 1758

Additional Range and Status Information Links

Additional Photo Sources

Species References

Albert, D. J. 2005. Reproduction and longevity of Aurelia labiata in Roscoe Bay, a small bay on the Pacific coast of Canada. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. 85 (3) 575-581).

Dawson, Michael N. and David K. Jacobs 2001. Molecular Evidence for Cryptic Species of Aurelia aurita (Cnidaria, Scyphozoa) Biol. Bull. 200: 92-96. (February 2001).

Lynam, Christopher. Home Page. University of St. Andrews. Available online.

Monterey Bay Aquarium 2010. Moon Jellies. Available online.

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2024-07-23 1:15:34 AM]
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