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Cephea cephea, sometimes called the Crown Jellyfish, (although this name is confusing as it is also used for other species) is a “true jellyfish” (Class Scyphozoa) in the small family Cephidae.  It is one of three species in its genus, all found in the Indo-Pacific and East Atlantic.  Cephea cephea occassionaly drifts inshore but is mostly oceanic, broadly distributed in waters from the mid-Pacific through the Indo-Pacific to the Red Sea, and in the Atlantic off West Africa.  It is a large jellyfish, reaching 50-60 cm in diameter, with multiple wart-like projections on top of the central mound of its bell, which is surrounded by a moat.  The thin frilled skirt around the crown is used for swimming.  Its main body is blue-purple, its eight oral arms are brown and highly divided into a large, curly-looking surface area resembling a cauliflower (hence this jellyfish’s other common name, Cauliflower Jellyfish).  Multiple long colorless filaments with stinging cells for capturing prey trail behind as it swims.  Sugiura (1965) studied the life history of Cephea cephea in detail from planulae larvae collected from the oral system of females caught off Japan, reporting that this species reproduces frequently by budding of the scyphistome, while strobilation is monodisc, producing only one medusa from each scyphistome polyp.  Cephea cephea has since been cultured from polyps to adulthood at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California.  The Cauliflower Jellyfish is targeted by the jellyfish fishing industry, especially during large blooms, and commonly and historically eaten as a delicacy or for medicinal purposes in China and Japan, along with multiple other species from its order, Rhizostomeae.  There are records of sea turtles preying upon these jellyfish (e.g. Patry 2012).

A beautiful image by Yeang Ch'ng is featured in the Smithsonian’s Nature’s Best Photography exhibit online at http://www.mnh.si.edu/exhibits/ocean%20views/gallery/index.html

(Mayor 1910; Monterey Bay Aquarium 1999-2013;Omori and Kitamura 2003; Omori and Nakano 2001; Patry 2012; Sugiura 1966; Wikipedia 2013; WoRMS 2012)

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