Apparently it’s a lot of fun to touch jellyfish when you know you won’t be stung.
Based on its popularity, the special touch-a-jellyfish exhibit called “Jiggle A Jelly” will become a permanent offering at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk. The display, which had been scheduled to run through April 20, now will be open on weekends, holidays and school-vacation days through June 30, and then daily in July and August. It’s free with Aquarium admission.
“Visitors have really liked the exhibit, and been very excited to experience the unusual sensation of touching jellies,” said Judith Bacal, the Aquarium’s exhibits director. “We’re pleased to now make ‘Jiggle A Jelly’ one of our regular hands-on features, along with our Intertidal Touch Tank and our Shark & Ray Touch Pool.”
“Jiggle A Jelly” opened Jan. 18, inviting visitors to safely touch live moon jellyfish, one of the most common species in Long Island Sound. Maritime Aquarium volunteers staff the exhibit, encouraging visitors to use two fingers to gently touch the top of the jellyfishes’ gelatinous body or “bell.”
Moon jellies (Aurelia aurita) do have tentacles but their stings are generally benign to people. A common species in Long Island Sound, they grow to dinner-plate size during the warmth of summer. Short tentacles rim their bell, and four “oral arms” extend underneath. Moon jellies are colorless and translucent, except for four central horseshoe-shaped reproductive organs.
Letting visitors get close to jellyfish is nothing new for The Maritime Aquarium. A mesmerizing gallery featuring moon jellies, sea nettles, lion’s mane and other live species of jellyfish is now in its 19th year at the Aquarium and remains among the most popular and memorable exhibits. Plus, displays of jellies in their various life stages in the Jellyfish Culture Lab let visitors see how the Aquarium keeps a year-round supply of the seasonal creatures on exhibit. But “Jiggle A Jelly” is the first time visitors have been able to touch them.
“We look to offer interactivity wherever we can,” Bacal said. “It really adds to the family fun, and is a great way to encourage important connections between our visitors and the natural environment.”
Learn more about the Aquarium’s exhibits, IMAX(r) movies and programs at www.maritimeaquarium.org or by calling (203) 852-0700.