Biodiversity & Conservation

Mauve stinger - Pelagia noctiluca

Pelagia noctiluca

Image Keith Hiscock - Pelagia noctiluca, North Rat Island, Lundy. Image width ca 40 cm.
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Distribution map

Pelagia noctiluca recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

Why do the maps differ?

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Pelagia noctiluca is not listed under any importance categories.

Taxonomy icon Taxonomy Taxon English term
Phylum Cnidaria Sea anemones, corals, sea firs & jellyfish
Authority (Forsskål, 1775)
Recent synonyms None
Map icon Recorded Distribution in Britain and Ireland Pelagia noctiluca is an uncommon jellyfish around the British Isles but may be found anywhere over deep water off the west and north coasts (Russell, 1970).
Habitat information icon Habitat information Pelagia noctiluca is an oceanic species widely distributed in warm and temperate waters.
Text page icon Description Pelagia noctiluca may grow to 10 cm in diameter. The medusa colour varies from pale red to mauve-brown or purple and the exumbrella surface is covered in pink or mauve nematocyst-bearing warts. The mushroom shaped, deep bell has 16 marginal lobes, eight marginal sense organs and eight, hair-like marginal tentacles. These thin tentacles may extend as far as 3 m. All tentacles on Pelagia noctiluca are covered in nematocysts. The manubrium bears four thick, frilled oral arms. This species has no sessile stage and the adults release juvenile medusae in the autumn.
Identifying features
  • Mushroom shaped bell.
  • Exumbrella and tentacles are covered in pink or mauve nematocysts.
  • 16 marginal lobes
  • 8 marginal sense organs
  • 8 hair-like marginal tentacles.
Additional information icon Additional information Pelagia noctiluca feed mainly on pelagic ascidians and other small jellyfish (Hayward et al., 1996).

Although the sting of Pelagia noctiluca is potent and painful, it is limited in time and extent (Williamson et al., 1996).

This review can be cited as follows:

Jessica Heard 2008. Pelagia noctiluca. Mauve stinger. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 28/11/2015]. Available from: <>