No, unfortunately they are not on public display, but it’s true: there are live jellyfish at the College of Veterinary Medicine. Currently a quartet of Aurelia aurita, or Moon Jellyfish, are living in special jellyfish tanks designed to keep the delicate invertebrates comfortable and robust as part of Fisheries & Wildlife Conservation Biology Masters student Mary Doerr’s thesis research efforts.
The jellyfish arrived in February and are currently acclimating to their new environment. Mary, who is a member of Dr. Michael Stoskopf’s laboratory group, is studying the physiology and metabolism of jellyfish using moon jellies (A. aurita) as her model. A key part of her thesis will be characterizing the metabolome of moon jelly fish using NMR spectroscopy. She hopes to use that information to then study their biochemical adaptations to environmental challenges such as increased temperature, to help us better understand what drives jellyfish blooms that seem to be occurring with increasing frequency in ocean waters around the globe.
After preliminary pilot studies being conducted at the CVM, plans are for moon jelly fish to be among the first animals to be studied using the 4.7T horizontal research magnet in the Marine Magnetic Resonance Facility at CMAST in Morehead City. Mary’s husbandry work at CVM is already informing her designs for a life support system for jellyfish that fits inside the magnet and will allow individual live jellyfish to be studied repeatedly without harm.