One Great Shot: Seeking Shelter in the Arms of a Jellyfish
Amid the feeding frenzy of a plankton bloom, juvenile fish stick close to their jellyfish friends.
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Survival for juvenile fish necessitates ingenuity, compromise, and good fortune. Dense zooplankton blooms, such as this one I captured near midnight in the waters of Shetland, at the far north of the British Isles, attract predators from the pitch-black water. The bloom also attracted these fish that I observed using a jellyfish as a sort of “satellite of life.” When the coast seemed clear of threats, the fish dared to swim in the open water to feed, but they tracked the jellyfish closely. When threatened, the juveniles darted between the tentacles, relying on the jellyfish to deter predators.
Seeking shelter within a forest of tentacles is not without risk—juveniles can also be stung and must maneuver with precise accuracy. But the gamble is worth the reward as the tiny fish, which were smaller than my little finger, grow through this vulnerable stage of life. If the jellyfish also feels threatened, it balls up, retracting its tentacles toward the bell. With the stinging tentacles no longer offering the same protection, the juvenile fish huddle in the jellyfish’s bell, with nervous eyes peering back through a gelatinous window.