Immortal jellyfish

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Photo from Peter Schuchert's incredible Hydrozoa Directory

The Turritopsis nutricula is known as the "immortal jellyfish" because even once sexually mature, it can revert back to its polypoid stage, its first life stage. And then rinse and repeat. Again and again. From Mother Nature Network:

Because they are able to bypass death, the number of individuals is spiking. They're now found in oceans around the globe rather than just in their native Caribbean waters.  "We are looking at a worldwide silent invasion," says Dr. Maria Miglietta of the Smithsonian Tropical Marine Institute.
"The world's only immortal animal" (Thanks, Andrea Mangini!)


  1. Nobody panic – we’re going to kill them with oil. Lets see you polypoid you way out of THAT.

    //there can only be one

  2. I’ve seen adult humans act like babies. Is that sort of like reverting back to a polypoid stage?

  3. Best pet for people afraid of not being able to take care of a sick pet. It just resets itself!

  4. Why is their number only spiking now? Did they only just evolve this ability or something? Or has a new niche opened up? Overfishing?

  5. As soon as we figure out how to make edible soup out of them, there won’t be much of them left for long. That’s progress…

    1. Just tell the Japanese that the soup will have rejuvenating properties and then one ‘research project’ later they’ll be extinct.

    1. Yep, and it’s still not news to me! ;)

      Interestingly, though, they have only spread out of the Caribbean over the last few years…

      Maybe they really did know something, and just swam away…?


      Naah, that’s silly. It must just be that the stars are right…

      1. Maybe they really did know something, and just swam away…?

        They left a message: “So long, and thanks for all the plankton.”

  6. These regenerating jelly-fish hitched a ride in the Tardis and were accidentally released when it dumped its ballast water without first sterilizing it.

    The Doctor apparently allowed the inter-dimensional UV light in the ballast tank to burn out. What a jerk!

    This is also why we have so many damn cats – they’re not even native to Earth. How else would they have nine lives?

    The first doctor chronicled and dramatized in the very early ‘lost’ episodes was actually a ‘Crazy Cat Lady’ – a cabinet-level position on Galifrey. The cats escaped when he carelessly left the cat door unsecured when he was visiting the newly built Sphinx.

    Fortunately, his current collection only consists of AMC Pacer and Gremlin autos because he thinks they look so ‘Steam-Punk.’ He has about 250 or so. Hell if I know how he gets them through the door. What a weirdo.

    Of course, the Doctor buying these up makes them more scarce, thus increasing the value of my collection. Of course, I don’t collect them because I think they look Steam-Punk. Anyone who thinks they look remotely Steam-Punk is just a silly goose.

    I collect them because of their fine engineering and futuristic styling.

  7. “Because they are able to bypass death, the number of individuals is spiking.”

    I call crappy science reporting on this. This would only make sense if they just recently evolved the ability.

    Their numbers are regulated by equilibrium between reproduction and death, just like any other organism. The only difference here is that it’s lacking one cause of death that almost everything else has. The number of individuals is “spiking” because for some reason they are reproducing more, or less of them are getting killed, or both.

  8. Convince the gullible that the dried poly-whatevers have aphrodisiac powers and they’ll be gone in a fortnight.

    1. Hydra is rather different. They don’t get old, which is actually not unusual among asexual creatures. This jellyfish, though, seems to be able to age and then reverse it.

      Despite the article, the difference doesn’t mean much as far as survival goes. As creatures who are killed by aging in the thousands and thousands, though, it’s something particularly curious to us.

  9. But they eat and defecate through the same orifice. Try going through an eternity doing that.

  10. Hmm. So we can assume because these jellyfash CAN rewind the tape, they do. And then do it again and again. How old do you think the oldest one is? Do some ever just think “Okay, I’m bored. No more restarting,”?

  11. Interesting article. However there is no such thing as a “jellyfish”. These creatures are not fish. Proper name is sea jellies.

    Ken Leonard

    11 year charter member of the Aquarium of the Pacific

    1. Not true. There’s a general rule that names with spaces imply the type of creature – black oak, flying squirrel, bald eagle – but names without spaces do not necessarily – mountain-ash, dragonfly, ladybird.

      So names like jellyfish and starfish are actually perfectly proper in normal use. They been around for a long time, and they don’t actually imply they’re truly fish. So I wish people would leave them alone.

      Not to mention that sea jelly and sea star are really less proper, because they aren’t actually made of jelly or stars.

          1. No, I didn’t mean to imply that I believe that propaganda! I mean, how else did humans get around over the oceans before the invention of the boat? Seahorses.

          2. uhm… they just didnt o.O or they swam…
            i personally would much rather ride a dolphin then squish a poor seahorse.

  12. are they edible? what is their predator?
    these are the questions that come to mind.
    what did we kill that ate these, or is this something new?

    my recaptcha is |16-year-old response|.

    oddly enough, these questions are the ones I would have asked at 16

  13. Blowinthecartridgefish. WIYGN? Sea Jellies? With tea? On my velociped? Margaret may I?

  14. Seems logical that they’re migrating outwards now that the oceans are getting warmer.
    Personally I would love to be able to go swimming more than 2 months a year, but not if these suckers are around.

  15. I’m assuming that if we consume them, say in a nice Beschamel sauce, then we, too will become immortal, (with slightly elevated cholestral levels.)

    1. Tell that to the right people, and very soon the spike will be over, for not just these but jellyfish in general.

  16. Cousteau must have written about them a while ago, and then pirates back in the day must have eaten them, and there about a guzzilion

  17. Jellyfish burgers straight from my frying pan
    Recipe – Makes 4

    Out of the sack of jellyfish immortal u just bought take:

    125g jellyfish ready-to-eat (if you can only find salted jellyfish, that’s fine, but they must be rinsed, then soaked in water for at least 4hrs or overnight to remove the salt)
    500g potatoes
    75g butter
    Salt & Pepper
    3tsp toasted sesame oil
    3tbsp fresh spring onions, finely sliced
    1 tsp fresh ginger
    2 Large handfuls fresh coriander leaves and stalks, finely chopped
    2 tsp sweet chilli dipping sauce
    Vegetable oil for frying
    To serve: Sweet chili dipping sauce


    Squeeze as much water as possible out of the jellyfish, then pat dry with cloths or kitchen roll to remove more water. Chop thinly into shreds the size of tagliatelle, and about 2cm long. Place on a cloth to continue drying (you really need to get as much moisture as possible out of them). Meanwhile…

    Make your mashed potato:
    Add the butter, salt and pepper and stir through.
    In a bowl, mix the toasted sesame oil, spring onions, ginger, chopped coriander and sweet chili dipping sauce together and stir well.
    Put the mash into one large mixing bowl and add HALF of the toasted sesame oil/herb mixture, and mix together. In a second bowl, add the chopped jellyfish and the remaining toasted sesame oil/herb mixture, and mix together.
    To make your burgers (you are basically making a mashed potato sandwich with the jellyfish mixture in the middle):

    First take a handful of herby potato mixture and make a very flat disk the size of your palm. Lay it on a chopping board. Take a slightly smaller handful of the jellyfish mixture and place it on the potato so that it doesn’t reach the edges. Take another handful of potato and place it on the top.

    Mould the mixture around so that the jellyfish is cased in potato.

    Heat a non-stick frying pan until medium-hot, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and fry the burgers one at a time for only 2 mins on each side. You just need to brown the outsides (remember that the jellyfish and potato are all cooked and ready to eat.

    Serve with jellyfish salad and sweet chili dipping sauce.

  18. I think they’re very interesting and if someone HAS to kill them then they shouldn’t kill to many or they may become extinct.BAD!!!!!!!

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