Jellyfish work at the Oregon Coast Aquaruim takes place in locations as diverse as under a microscope or from the docks with a net and in small glass cups or in thousand-gallon exhibits, at what is one of the world’s largest public jellyfish displays. Visitors stand in awe as these open sea animals float in crystal-clear water, while behind-the-scenes staff monitor water flows, diet and temperature.
“We have successfully exhibited jellyfish for almost 10 years, developing an extensive rearing program to stock the current exhibit of a wide range of gelatinous animals,” Daly explained. “We also work frequently with new organisms collected locally, to try and identify their captive needs, including reproduction.” Daly is the senior aquarist in the Aquarium’s fishes and invertebrates section, formerly working as a biology lab and field research assistant for the Smithsonian Institution Marine Systems Laboratory until 1993.
“We have 15 public displays and over 50 holding tanks,” Daly noted. “Culturing the animals for the exhibit is a priority so that we can limit the collection of wild specimens and can stock the exhibits at any time of the year. Raising jellyfish basically comes down to feeding them a diverse diet.”
The Aquarium’s jellyfish culture program includes many containers of polyps and hydroids from over a dozen species which are inspected several times a week for newly released medusae. These are collected and placed in cups and they are fed highly concentrated food and undergo daily water exchanges.
“Once they have reached a ‘safe’ size, they are moved into larger holding tanks with consistent water flow, where the shape of the tank is an important consideration,” Daly added. “Our research here has shown that even water flow rates and patterns are important to muscle development, especially for wild-caught specimens.”
Located just south of Newport, the Oregon Coast Aquarium is rated one of the top 10 aquariums in the nation. For additional information on the Oregon Coast Aquarium, call 541-867-FISH