Atlantic Sea Nettle

Atlantic Sea Nettle

Chrysaora quinquecirrha

The Atlantic sea nettle varies in color based on where it is found. In the Chesapeake Bay, the sea nettle is primarily an opaque white, while in the Atlantic Ocean, it can have a white, red or brown coloration. Nettles populate the Chesapeake and its tributaries primarily from July through September, though some individuals can be present into November.

Did You Know?

Atlantic sea nettles are considered a nuisance to swimmers throughout the Chesapeake Bay in the summer months and cause about 500,000 stings per year.

Visitor Tip

Because these jellies are planktivores (i.e., eat plankton), they are fed several times a day. 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, such as ctenophores, worms, mosquito larvae, fish eggs and juvenile crustaceans.


The Atlantic sea nettle’s bell can grow up to 8 inches wide.


Atlantic sea nettles are found along the East Coast of the United States, as well as in the Gulf of Mexico. They range from New England to Texas. These animals can thrive in very low salinities, as well as saltwater.

Population Status

Common in the Chesapeake in the summer months and into fall.


Sea turtles, ocean sunfish and larger jellies.

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