The Atlantic bay nettle has two color varieties; in the upper Chesapeake Bay, the white variety is most prevalent, and closer to the Atlantic Ocean, this jelly can have a white, red or brown coloration. Nettles populate the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries primarily from July through September, though some individuals can be present into November.
Did You Know?
The nettle jellies commonly found in the Chesapeake Bay were known as Atlantic sea nettles until 2017, when researchers proved through DNA testing that these bay-based invertebrates are a separate species: the Atlantic bay nettle.
These jellies are planktivores—in other words, they eat plankton—and are fed several times a day in Jellies Invasion: Oceans Out of Balance. When feeding, their tentacles become slightly thicker as they partially retract to consume their prey. If their long tentacles appear thicker than a thread, they are most likely feasting on their latest meal.
Zooplankton, worms, mosquito larvae, fish eggs, juvenile crustaceans and other jellies.
The Atlantic bay nettle's bell can grow up to 7 inches wide.
Atlantic bay nettles are found in brackish waters of coastal bays along the East Coast of the United States and the Gulf of Mexico, from New England to Texas. These jellies can thrive in very low salinities, as well as salt water.
Common in the Chesapeake Bay in the summer months and into fall.
Sea turtles, ocean sunfish, larger jellies and even birds are predators of the Atlantic bay nettle.
Back to the Top