I get butterflies every time I head to the airport to pick up a friend or family member who has travelled a long distance to see me. So I can imagine the excited anticipation of the Vancouver Aquarium biologists who went to YVR a couple of weeks ago to pick up their precious cargo … over 1,000 jellyfish.

Over 1,000 spotted jellyfish arrived in their own plastic bags. Photo: Danny Kent

Over 1,000 spotted jellyfish arrived from Cebu, Philippines in preparation for Jelly Invasion. Photo credit: Vancouver Aquarium.

In preparation for the Aquarium’s new feature exhibit Jelly Invasion, 1,250 spotted jellyfish (Mastigias papua) made the journey to Canada from the island of Cebu, Philippines. Mackenzie Neale, an Aquarium biologist, says they picked up the gelatinous animals at around 11 p.m., a time when most of us would have already been in bed.

After bringing them back to the Aquarium, Mackenzie and her colleagues (six staff in total) started unpacking the 37 boxes containing the jellyfish.

When I arrive anywhere after a long flight, there are some things I need to do before settling in: have a stretch, a shower and a snack. But not these jellyfish – no careful settling in was needed for these animals. Mackenzie says they were able to place them straight into the water behind the scenes. (Fishes that arrive this way would normally have to acclimatize to the change in temperature between the water in the bag and the water in our facility.)

Mackenzie says, “I was very excited, but you’re always nervous until you actually see them and can make sure they’ve all arrived in good condition, which they did.”

By 4 a.m., most of the “unpacking” was done, though Mackenzie says the team has their work cut out for them because now the real work begins – keeping them well fed and healthy in their new home.

See these hypnotic animals in the Tropic Zone gallery. And be sure to visit Jelly Invasion, on through Nov. 12.

Written by Karen Horak, writer-editor, content and digital experience at the Vancouver Aquarium.


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