Aurelia aurita | Smugairle róin gealach



Conservation status

Ireland: Not considered threatened
Europe: Not considered threatened
Global: Not considered threatened

Legal status

The Common Jellyfish is not afforded legal protection in Ireland

Native status


Species Biology


Key identification features include:

  • Large translucent bell with 4 ring-shaped gonads at top of bell
  • Bell can be 5 – 40 cm in diameter
  • Ringed gonads range in colour from purple to pink
  • Numerous (100s) short thin tentacles around the edge of the bell
  • 4 oral arms on the underside of the bell


The medusae are found in shallow coastal waters, including semi-enclosed or enclosed coastal systems. The benthic polyps are found on hard substratum such as rocks but also man-made structures such as pontoons (Lucas, 2001).

Flight period

Life cycle

A. aurita reach sexual maturity in the spring and summer. Eggs are fertilized in-situ in female medusae before they are released as free-swimming planulae. These attach to suitable substratum to form polyps called “scyphistoma”. The polyps strobilate and release free-swimming ephyrae which grow into medusae (Russell, 1970).

Threats faced

This species is not considered threatened or endangered (Doyle et al., 2014; Omori & Nakano, 2001).


World distribution(GBIF)

This species is one of the most cosmopolitan jellyfish species being found from northern boreal waters to tropical waters. It occurs off all European coasts, along the Atlantic coast of North America, in the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific (Russell, 1970).

Irish distribution

A. aurita is found in all coastal waters, with highest densities being found within 10 km from shore. Visual observations from ships of opportunity in the Irish Sea found that the highest densities of A. aurita were found 20-30 km offshore, but that large aggregations were also present in coastal waters (Doyle et al., 2007; Bastian  et al., 2011).

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2022

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Bastian, T., Haberlin, D., Purcell, J. E., Hays, G. C., Davenport, J., McAllen, R., and Doyle, T. K. (2011). Large-scale sampling reveals the spatio-temporal distributions of the jellyfish Aurelia aurita and Cyanea capillata in the Irish Sea

Doyle, T. K., Houghton, J. D., Buckley, S. M., Hays, G. C., & Davenport, J. (2007). The broad-scale distribution of five jellyfish species across a temperate coastal environment. Hydrobiologia, 579(1), 29-39.

Doyle, T. K., Hays, G. C., Harrod, C., & Houghton, J. D. (2014). Ecological and societal benefits of jellyfish. In Jellyfish blooms (pp. 105-127). Springer Netherlands.

Lucas, C. H. (2001). Reproduction and life history strategies of the common jellyfish, Aurelia aurita, in relation to its ambient environment. Hydrobiologia, 451(1-3), 229-246.

Omori, M., & Nakano, E. (2001). Jellyfish fisheries in southeast Asia. In Jellyfish Blooms: Ecological and Societal Importance (pp. 19-26). Springer Netherlands.

Russell, F. S. (1970). The medusae of the British Isles (Vol. 2). CUP Archive.