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HandWiki. "Periphylla" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 19, 2024).
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The helmet jellyfish (Periphylla periphylla) is a luminescent, red-colored jellyfish of the deep sea, belonging to the order Coronatae of the phylum Cnidaria. It is the only species in the monotypic genus Periphylla. They are the only known scyphozoan to undergo sexual propagation that lacks a planula stage. Not only is their reproductive cycle unique, so are their living conditions. They are found in deeper parts of the ocean due to them being photophobic.

periphylla planula luminescent

1. Reproductive Cycle

Periphylla periphylla represents an exception, very rarely found in the phylum Cnidaria: the medusae do not go through a polyp stage, thus presenting a "holopelagic" life cycle. They also do not undergo a ephyra stage as well as a sessile stage.[1] The helmet jellyfish is also very unique in its growth and sexual reproduction in that they are the only known scyphozoan that undergoes sexual propagation but lacks the planula stage.[2] During reproduction, the female helmet jellyfish contain thousands of eggs within their gonads.Their eggs are actually the largest sized eggs within all Cnidaria. Despite the eggs being very large, females will only produce a small number of eggs.[3] The medusae release fertilized eggs in open water and these develop directly into medusae, whose development rests entirely upon the egg's high yolk supply.This yolk supply is seen during the first stage of development. This yolk is found inside of a network of plasma strains. This stage is when nuclei dispersed, and many of them are only found during this stage. During the second stage of development a minor indentation is seen. This will then later develop into a mouth. The yolk supply has shrunk to only one to two layers above the nucleus. An acid mucus can now be seen through secretion of the endodermal layer. As the jellyfish enters its third stage of development a smooth pit is visible on its anterior end.  There is now the first indication of a mouth, and their body shape resembles a hat. The amount of yolk granules are now decreasing throughout this stage, and are seen in three to four layers. The fourth stage of development shows their “umbrella” to have four indentations which creates the gastric septa on its inside. This stage is when there is the first indication of a histone. As for stage five, there are now sixteen lappets and four rhopalic buds developed. Their medusa shape is much more defined. There is also nearly no yolk present. Stage six of development is when the first glimpse of an opaque jelly is seen. At the end of the hypstome, the cross-shaped mouth is now opened. The seventh stage of development is when they begin to take on their medusa jellyfish shape. They have twelve tentacles as well as four interradial rhopalia. They do not begin to show pigmentation in this stage, but this stage is when cilia is first seen. The final eighth stage is known for when the purple pigmentation of the helmet jellyfish is now seen in their mouth and stomach.[2]

2. Habitat and Behavior

The jellyfish is found in depths up to 2700 meters and is adapted to its dark environment.[4] Not only have they become adapted and more abundant in darker environments, but they are also found in very opaque and cloudy waters.[5] They are found in these deep and dark waters due to the fact that sunlight can be very harmful to adult helmet jellyfish, and even deadly to younger helmet jellyfish.[6] The depth that they can be found at varies throughout the day. They're found in abundance at a depth of approximately 13.75 m during the nighttime, and as deep as 150 m during the daytime. The abundance of helmet jellyfish at the depth of 150 m during the day time is nearly three times the abundance of them found during the nighttime. This observation of migration shows that they are constantly migrating vertically throughout the depths of water based on the amount of available sunlight at the given time.[7] Through their vertical swimming, the jellyfish can swim several different speeds. The majority of their vertical swimming is seen at a speed of <2 cm/s. If they are swimming at full speed they can reach over 10 cm/s, but this is only for a short time span. If they do reach this speed, it is assumed that they follow this with a time of no vertical movement.[8] In 2017, many helmet jellyfish were caught to be studied to determine their main prey. In this experiment it was found that each jellyfish had only an average of five different species of prey in their digestive system. The prey in their digestive system was examined as well as the abundance of the prey. There was a 27% abundance of copepods, 23% abundance of pteropods, 20% abundance of amphipods, 17% abundance of euphausiids, and a 13% abundance of chaetognaths[9].With a full stomach it turns from the surface back to the depths. Other deep-sea inhabitants feed upon its faeces. They move by swimming with their tentacles being in an aboral position.[10] Their tentacles also have various unique muscles. These include longitudinal, ring-, radial-, and diagonal musculatures. The two most unique are the longitudinal and the diagonal musculature. The longitudinal is used for consuming prey by moving very quickly to the jellyfishes mouth. The diagonal is used for the corkscrew reaction that is used in order to obtain and capture prey.[11]

3. Description

Helmet jellyfish feeding on an armhook squid underwater

Helmet jellyfish reach a body size of up to 30 cm (12 in). The average wet weight of the jellyfish is 540 grams.[2] Overall, helmet jellyfish have a uniform size.[12] They consist 90% of water, the rest being tissue and gelatinous mass, which give the animals their form. They light themselves from within by means of bioluminescence, the red flashes serving as a signal amongst themselves. Between their marginal lobes sit small sense bulbs, by which the helmet jelly can distinguish between light and dark; they have been observed to avoid light. Their nature of avoiding light has given them the title of being photophobic . They have a biochemical content that consists of having a small amount of carbohydrates, average amount of lipids, and a large content of protein . The helmet jellyfish have twelve tentacles that consist of layers of endoderm and mesoglea, but each jellyfish can have a different type of tentacle posture. Through observational studies, it was found that within fifty-one of the observed jellyfish, there were eight different tentacle postures. The two most common type of tentacle postures are straight-extended tentacles with a forty-five degree angle in respect to the oral-aboral body axis, and straight-extended tentacles with a forty-five to ninety degree angle in respect to the oral-aboral body axis.[11] These tentacle postures are how each individual helmet jellyfish swims.[13]

4. Distribution

The helmet jelly is found in nearly every ocean of the world, as well as in the Norwegian fjords and in the Mediterranean Sea. They can also be found in Iceland and Greenland Seas. Additionally, there has been an increase in their population throughout the northern Barents Sea in recent years. The helmet jellyfish has also been found in an Arctic fjord that is located within western Spitsbergen.[9] Their distribution throughout these different locations are greatly influenced on the location and abundance of food sources. Their distribution can also be affected by physical conditions. They have been observed to not position themselves closer to the surface of the water if there are harsh weather conditions.[3] Their distribution can also be affected by water temperature. The vast majority of helmet jellyfish live in temperatures ranging from four to eleven degrees Celsius. Despite this, they are able to survive in water temperatures reaching up to nearly twenty degrees Celsius.[14]


  1. Jarms, Gerhard; Båmstedt, Ulf; Tiemann, Henry; Martinussen, Monica B.; Fosså, Jan Helge; Høisœter, Tore (16 April 1999). "The holopelagic life cycle of the deep-sea medusa Periphylla periphylla (Scyphozoa, Coronatae)". Sarsia 84 (1): 55–65. doi:10.1080/00364827.1999.10420451. ISSN 0036-4827. .
  2. Jarms, G; H, Tiemann; U, Båmstedt (1 October 2002). "Development and biology of Periphylla periphylla (Scyphozoa: Coronatae) in a Norwegian fjord". Marine Biology 141 (4): 647–657. doi:10.1007/s00227-002-0858-x. ISSN 0025-3162.
  3. Lucas, Cathy H. (26 November 2008). "Biochemical composition of the mesopelagic coronate jellyfish Periphylla periphylla from the Gulf of Mexico". Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 89 (1): 77–81. doi:10.1017/s0025315408002804. ISSN 0025-3154. .
  4. Telnes, K. (2020). "Helmet Jelly - PERIPHYLLA PERIPHYLLA". 
  5. Ohata, R.; Masuda, R.; Yamashita, Y (December 2012). "Ontogeny of antipredator performance in hatchery-reared Japanese anchovy Engraulis japonicus larvae exposed to visual or tactile predators in relation to turbidity". Journal of Fish Biology 79 (7): 2007–2018. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.2011.03141.x. PMID 22141901.
  6. Eriksen, E (2018). Helmet jellyfish is a rare guest in the north. Retrieved 5 April 2021. 
  7. Dupont, Nicolas; Klevjer, T. A.; Kaartvedt, S.; Aksnesa, D. L. (September 2009). "Diel vertical migration of the deep-water jellyfish Periphylla periphylla simulated as individual responses to absolute light intensity". Limnology and Oceanography 54 (5): 1765–1775. doi:10.4319/lo.2009.54.5.1765. Bibcode: 2009LimOc..54.1765D.
  8. Klevjer, T. A.; Kaartvedt, S; Bamstedt, U (1 August 2009). "In situ behaviour and acoustic properties of the deep living jellyfish Periphylla periphylla". Journal of Plankton Research 31 (8): 793–803. doi:10.1093/plankt/fbp036. ISSN 0142-7873.
  9. Geoffroy, Maxime; Berge, Jørgen; Majaneva, Sanna; Johnsen, Geir; Langbehn, Tom J.; Cottier, Finlo; Mogstad, Aksel Alstad; Zolich, Artur; Last, Kim (2018-12). "Increased occurrence of the jellyfish Periphylla periphylla in the European high Arctic". Polar Biology. 41 (12): 2615–2619. doi:10.1007/s00300-018-2368-4. ISSN 0722-4060.
  10. Sørnes, Tom A.; Hosia, Aino; Båmstedt, Ulf; Aksnes, Dag L. (2008-02). "Swimming and feeding in Periphylla periphylla (Scyphozoa, Coronatae)". Marine Biology. 153 (4): 653–659. doi:10.1007/s00227-007-0839-1. ISSN 0025-3162. PMC 6182610. PMID 30363824.
  11. Sötje, Ilka; Tiemann, Henry; Båmstedt, Ulf (January 2007). "Trophic ecology and the related functional morphology of the deep-water medusa Periphylla periphylla (Scyphozoa, Coronata)". Marine Biology 150 (3): 329–343. doi:10.1007/s00227-006-0369-2. ISSN 0025-3162.
  12. Fosså, Jan Helge (1992-12-31). "Mass occurrence of Periphylla periphylla (Scyphozoa, Coronatae) in a Norwegian fjord". Sarsia. 77 (3–4): 237–251. doi:10.1080/00364827.1992.10413509A. ISSN 0036-4827.
  13. Sørnes, Tom A.; Hosia, Aino; Båmstedt, Ulf; Aksnes, Dag L (February 2008). "Swimming and feeding in Periphylla periphylla (Scyphozoa, Coronatae)"". Marine Biology 153 (4): 653–659. doi:10.1007/s00227-007-0839-1. ISSN 0025-3162. PMID 30363824. .
  14. Singichetti, B. 2011. "Periphylla periphylla" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 05, 2021 at
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