Hong Kong Jellyfish Species Information

Hong Kong species

The Agriculture Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) records 6 species of jellyfish that have been found in Hong Kong waters - Cyanea nozakii, Mastigias papua, Aurelia aurita, Stomolophus meleagris, Pelagia panopyra (noctiluca) and Acromitus flagellatus. Information on each species is below. There is still much that is not known about each species, so everyone's contributions can count!

There are numerous species with distribution around the world that are likely to be found in Hong Kong waters. Help HKJP to find them and report your sighting!

Cyanea nozakii - Ryan 5.JPG

© Ryan Yue Wah Chan

Cyanea nozakii - common name - Ghost Jellyfish

This pelagic species can be found throughout the Indo-West Pacific: China, Japan and Myanmar, west Thailand and west Indonesia [1,2]. This medium to large sized medusa is generally milky white to light brown and normally between 20-30 cm wide, though can reach up to 120 cm wide. Little is currently known about its feeding and stings, though there are reports of nematocysts on the exumbrella

Mastigias papua.jpeg

© Yeungs

Mastigias papua - common name - Papuan Spotted Jellyfish

This medium-sized species can be found throughout the Western Pacific, from Japan to the Indian Ocean and Red Sea. It can grow up to 8 cm wide and has been found in multiple color combinations, blue-green to brown-green, with white spots [1]. It contains symbiotic zooxanthellae from which it gets energy, so performs diel vertical migration [2]. It also consumes zooplankton, phytoplankton, small invertebrates, and microbes [2]. More recent research has divided this species into three species, while historically there have been up to eight. The species considered to be in the Hong Kong area is Mastigias albipunctatus [3]. 

Aurelia aurita iNat.jpeg

© Millie Basden

Aurelia aurita - common name - Moon Jellyfish

This genus has different forms that may be different species across the world, yet are difficult to tell apart. It is one of the most common species of jellyfish around the world. A. aurita can be up to 40 cm wide, with a color ranging from white, rose to blueish or even colorless. The sting is so mild that it is frequently not felt. This species feeds on zooplankton and fish larvae [1].  It provides fatty acids and macronutrients to the fish and crustaceans that prey upon it [2].  Known to form huge swarms in the summer months.


Stomolophus meleagris 2 artic mongoose v

© Richard Stovall 

Stomolophus meleagris - common name - Cannonball Jellyfish

It is possible that sightings of this species in SE Asia have been misidentified from other species [1].  This medium-sized species can grow up to 18 cm wide, with a milky yellow or bluish color, leading down to a brown margin of the bell. It eats zooplankton and is preyed upon by sea turtles and sun fish [1]. An early recording of S. meleagris in Hong Kong came from The sea shore ecology of Hong Kong by Morton and Morton (1983), though more recent information puts its range around the Americas. This is given support by a genetic study that found the species in Chinese waters matches Nemopilema nomurai (common name: Nomura's jellyfish) [4]

Pelagia noctiluca Naomi Bousson v2.jpg

© Naomi Bousson

Pelagia panopyra (noctiluca) -

P. panopyra - common name Sea Nettle. P. noctiluca common name - Mauve Stinger

The species P. panopyra is considered doubtful and is likely to be P. noctiluca [6]. This small scyphomedusa has a diameter of 5-10 cm and feeds on copepods, fish eggs and zooplankton [1]. It can produce bioluminescence when it is disturbed. The sting of this jellyfish can be strong. 

Acromitus flagellatus - mine v2.jpg


 Acromitus flagellatus - common name - River Jellyfish

This medium-sized scyphomedusa, with a bell up to 12 cm [1], can be found across the western Indian Ocean to the central Pacific Ocean [5]. It can be found in mangroves and estuaries [2].  


1. Jarms, G. & Morandini, A.C. (2019). World Atlas of Jellyfish. Dölling und Galitz Verlag, 816p.

2. SeaLifeBase (2020). Retrieved August 10, 2020, from https://www.sealifebase.se/search.php

3. Souza, M., & Dawson, M. (2018). Redescription of Mastigias papua (Scyphozoa, Rhizostomeae) with designation of a neotype and recognition of two additional species. Zootaxa, 4457, 520–536. https://doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4457.4.2

4. Zhang, 张姝 Shu, Zhang, 张芳 Fang, Liu, 刘媛 Yuan, & Cui, 崔朝霞 Zhao-Xia. (2009). Molecular identification of two macro-jellyfish in China. Oceanologia et Limnologia Sinica, 40(1), 8.

5. Collins, A. G.; Jarms, G.; Morandini, A. C. (2020a). World List of Scyphozoa. Acromitus flagellatus (Maas, 1903). Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at: http://marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=220489 on 2020-12-06

6. Collins, A. G.; Jarms, G.; Morandini, A. C. (2020b). World List of Scyphozoa. Pelagia panopyra Péron & Lesueur, 1810. Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at: http://marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=220477 on 2020-12-06