Background Info

White-spotted jellies are native to the warm, tropical waters of the western Pacific Ocean, from Oceania through East Asia. The jellies in this photograph were swimming near the Philippines.

White-spotted jellies have very mild venom and do not pose a threat to human beings. In fact, these jellies do not generally use their venom to capture food at all. Instead, white-spotted jellies are filter feeders, like oysters or sponges. They can filter more than 50 cubic meters (1,766 cubic feet) of seawater every day!

Microscopic zooplankton are the main food source for white-spotted jellies. Plankton are a key part of the entire marine food web. Because white-spotted jellies often travel in large groups called swarms or smacks, they can disrupt the entire ecosystem of an area by consuming almost all the plankton. Fish, crustaceans, and marine mammals may not be able to find sufficient food in an area with swarms of white-spotted jellies.

This is especially true where white-spotted jellies are an invasive species. These areas are not home to the marine snails that prey on the jellies in their native habitat. Swarms of white-spotted jellies have impacted ecosystems in the Gulf of California, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea.

For Further Exploration


Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry



community and interactions of living and nonliving things in an area.

Encyclopedic Entry: ecosystem



to remove particles from a substance by passing the substance through a screen or other material that catches larger particles and lets the rest of the substance pass through.

filter feeder


aquatic animal that strains nutrients from water.



material, usually of plant or animal origin, that living organisms use to obtain nutrients.

Encyclopedic Entry: food

food web


all related food chains in an ecosystem. Also called a food cycle.

Encyclopedic Entry: food web



environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.

Encyclopedic Entry: habitat

invasive species


type of plant or animal that is not indigenous to a particular area and causes economic or environmental harm.

Encyclopedic Entry: invasive species



type of marine animal, not a fish, with a soft body and stinging tentacles.



very small.



existing in the tropics, the latitudes between the Tropic of Cancer in the north and the Tropic of Capricorn in the south.



poison fluid made in the bodies of some organisms and secreted for hunting or protection.


noun, plural noun

microscopic organism that lives in the ocean.


Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.


Christopher Diaz


Caryl-Sue, National Geographic Society

User Permissions

For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service.

If you have questions about licensing content on this page, please contact for more information and to obtain a license.

If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please visit our FAQ page.


Some media assets (videos, photos, audio recordings and PDFs) can be downloaded and used outside the National Geographic website according to the Terms of Service. If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the lower right hand corner (download) of the media viewer. If no button appears, you cannot download or save the media.


Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service.


Any interactives on this page can only be played while you are visiting our website. You cannot download interactives.