jellyfish biologist
A jelly biologist, complete with lab coat and safety glasses

My name is Rebecca Helm, and I run the Helm Lab at the University of North Carolina, Asheville.  At UNC Asheville my lab studies the development and evolution of jellyfish, and we share our work here on this site. I hope that this blog will serve as a resource for all those interested in biology, jellies, and occasional bits of other fun stuff thrown in.  Please feel free to comment and ask questions. If you’d like to get in touch, please send emails to: Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 3.55.15 PM   If you’d like to learn more about my research, and find my published scientific papers, please visit my personal website: rebeccarhelm.com (a lab site is coming soon!)

41 thoughts on “About

    1. You can! But only certain species. One of the most common species to eat is Stomolophus meleagris, or the cannon ball jelly. It is a delicacy in some parts of the world. I’ve had it fried and steamed. Personally, I’d recommend fried, the steamed jelly had the texture of a rubber band.

      1. Rebecca, do you know is the reason of why some of the jellyfish species are not edible? I think to eat up all the jellyfish is the best way to solve the jellyfish overpopulation problem.

      2. The jelly overpopulation problem is not a problem in most places. It is specific to certain regions of the world and due to a variety of causes (including damage humans cause to the environment). Eating all the jellies will not solve the underlying problems, but will likely create many many new ones.

        For your food question: edible jellies are generally all very tough and meaty, with a very firm texture. I assume this is one reason why they are favored for food when compared to other species. And of course some jellies have horrible stings. Combine a fragile body with a bad sting and I can’t imagine many fisherman wanting to catch them, factory owners wanting to process them, or consumers ready to eat them. I recommend reaching out to a jelly fishery if you’re interested in getting an insider perspective.

  1. I’m told you have to heat the water and pour it on top of the jellies to cook them. The other way makes them too rubbery. Jellyfish salad is popular in parts of SE Asia.

  2. I really like this blog but I have a quick question. How does the Loggerhead Sea Turtle (the Jellyfishes natural predator ) survive the jellyfishes sting without getting hurt? Anyways Happy blogging!!!!

    1. Thanks! The loggerhead has very thick skin, but it isn’t really a jellyfish predator. Leatherbacks, on the other hand, love jellies. Like the loggerhead, leatherbacks aslo have very thick skin, which likely protects them from many hazards, including jelly stings. Leatherbacks also have barbs in their mouth that snag and hold onto jellies.

  3. Wow that is a really cool adaptation that they have barbs in their mouths I never knew that . Also thanks for the post about it !!!. Anyways happy blogging (:

  4. Thank you for a wonderfully informative and entertaining Blog. I raise Moon Jellies at home and hope someday to graduate to a larger tank and other types of jellies. It’s fun to learn about different types. Ever since I saw the Jellyfish exhibit at the Monterrey Bay Aquarium I have been hooked. The website below is my Jellyfish Tank.

  5. Hi Rebecca, I went to St. Augustine Beach on the Atlantic side of Florida this past weekend and found a jellyfish that I am trying to identify. I think the closest thing I could compare it to is the mauve stinger. It was a light purple color, only about 2-3 inches in diameter, with reddish-brown spots but it did not have the nematocysts on the bell like I have been reading (I was stupidly carrying it around by the bell because I didn’t realize there were species that had stinging cells in the bell). If you email me, I would be happy to send you pictures that I took of it. I am a biologist as well but am new to the Florida ecosystems and it is driving me nuts that I can’t figure it out!! Haha thank you!

  6. Rebecca:

    Check out this Kickstarter project! It is wonderful and I hope I can get in on it!

  7. On a vacation several years ago we took pictures of a “jelly” like mass in fresh water. Is there anyway to identify this (website, etc.)? We have tried several times to no avail. We found it near the Michigamme Reservoir.

    1. Hmmm, freshwater is tricky. Just some general thoughts, maybe an egg mass, freshwater jellyfish (Craspedacusta sowerbii) or freshwater bryozoans. Do any of these fit? Please feel free to send me a picture and I can give it a go. Freshwater isn’t really my best area though.

  8. Found 3 washed up propita propita at Cape San Blas florida. This is the first I’ve seen of this cute jelly. Do you know if it is common around here. Thank you

    1. Hi Melissa– What a great find! I love porpita! I’ve contacted you via email with more information, but in short yes and no, it does look like porpita has been seen in Florida, but not in that spot. If you haven’t done so already, please consider signing up over at jellywatch.org and reporting you sighting. You’ll be the first from Cape San Blas!

  9. Hi Jellybiologist! I have always been curious… what nutritional value do jellyfish have for ocean predators (like turtles, sperm whales, etc.)? How does it compare to other prey items like krill, fish, and/or marine mammals?

      1. first time i spotted it, it was like very very small and only a few like 10-20 of them, now the number grew to almost thousands.. does this kind of jelly can be consumed by big jellies, like the sea nettle?

      2. Perhaps. Nettles do eat other jellies. Cladonima likes to stick to surfaces though, which could make it hard. I haven’t had very good luck feeding live copepods to my jellies, for example, because the copepods available for purchase like to cling to walls. But it’s worth a shot!

      3. hahaha just asking coz we had so many of them. can i ask one more question, my sea nettles often pause pulsing a lot, do you know the factors of pause pulsing in sea nettles. btw water condition is okay, pH and everything. just wanted to know if there are any specific reasons.. hahaha thank you

      4. Interesting. Are they just pausing, or are they becoming paralyzed (not pulsing anymore and then dying?). If they’re just pausing, it may be part of their normal behavior.

  10. they are alive, held in captive for a month now. its like this, now they are pulsing healthily and after 12 hours, they start to pause pulse for about 3-10 seconds and keep fluctuate for almost a day until they got normal again. this rarely occurs in the wild I assume.

  11. Hey, I just found your blog, and I have 2 questions. How many types of jellyfish exist? And is there any article that I can use for my research about the basics of Jellyfish? Thanks!

    1. Good question. Jellyfish is a common word that means different things to different people. To some people, jellyfish can also mean comb jellies or salps. To me, jellyfish means a life cycle stage in a group of animals called Medusozoans, and these jellyfish look like the popular image with a bell and long tentacles. There are several thousand species of medusozoan, but fewer jellyfish, because not all medusozoans have jellyfish. For your second question, what kind of info are you looking for? You can search through the categories on this site for specific information!

  12. Great website! There is so much information! I’m currently preparing my unit on Cnidarians for my new Zoology class next year (I’m a high school science teacher). I can’t wait to read more on your page and share with students. I know they will ask me a lot of questions and I bet I can find most of the answers here. Thanks!

  13. Hello, I would like to ask a question and I hope I am not too repetitive. Many websites say that jellyfish are made up of 95% water and 5% solid matter. What are the elements that make up this solid matter?

  14. Hi Jellybiologist! If you were about 15 and were slightly obsessed and majorly fascinated with jellyfish, what sites would you use for your research? Also how would you create your own blog? Thanks xx Jellylover

  15. Hey Jellylover, I am also slightly obsessed with jellyfish, and I have some great sites! Treehugger.com, Thoughtco., Howstuffworks, and planetdeadly.com are some that I frequent. But JellyBioligist, I would love to hear yours too! Hope that helps— Bayla

  16. I heard your interview on TWIS this morning. Wow! I hope you write a book about these creatures and their relatives,

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