Humans aren’t the only animals to favor their meals through a little bite—or a small sting, as the case may be.

You are watching: How do sea turtles eat jellyfish without getting stung

In this video, shoot by naval biologist Johnny Gaskell, a young environment-friendly sea turtle munches top top a jellyfish in the shallow waters roughly Hook Island, Queensland, in Australia’s famous great Barrier Reef. Though almost every one of the world seven varieties of sea turtles are omnivorous—meaning castle eat pretty much anything, including jellyfish—green sea turtle are mostly herbivorous as adults.

The tortoise in this video is a juvenile, likely in between 2 and 5 years old, in ~ a stage in its breakthrough where a more omnivorous diet is typical.


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A diver swims over a garden that stony corals ~ above the great Barrier Reef, i beg your pardon is much more than 1,250 mile long. Climate change poses a multitude of hazards to this global treasure.

A diver swims over a garden the stony corals top top the good Barrier Reef, i beg your pardon is much more than 1,250 mile long. Climate adjust poses a multitude of hazards to this worldwide treasure.

Photograph by David Doubilet, Nat Geo picture Collection

“What\"s amazing here is the it\"s actually going for the tentacles and also not the bell, i beg your pardon would perhaps have much more nutrition,” says David Gruber, a marine biologist and National geographic Explorer.

A jellyfish’s tentacles carry out seem to it is in an odd selection of meal: people are wary of your sting, which occurs when skin call triggers small, harpoon-like structures dubbed nematocysts to inject venoms that attack the victim’s cells. (Read about a microscopic nematocyst eight race.)

But since sea turtles are reptiles (and therefore scaly), they’re much less vulnerable to these nematocysts. This turtle’s only sensitive spot is that is eyes, which that protects by closeup of the door its eyelids and also shielding itself through a flipper. And it appears to experience no ill results from eating the tentacles, Gruber says.

Such an steel stomach at such a young age can only be one advantage: green sea tortoise can prosper to weigh as much as 700 pounds, and live around 80 year in the wild.

Though jellyfish are certainly on the food selection for juvenile eco-friendly sea turtles, it’s possible “to hypothesize the the sea grass the tortoise would normally eat has been disappearing, and also now it\"s going because that these lower-grade diets,” states Gruber.

In current years, the great Barrier Reef has suffered correctly coral bleaching as a result of worldwide warming. Sea turtles—all varieties of which are listed as endangered—are fragile to such transforms in their native ecosystems. They likewise face the risks of being killed deliberately, for their meat and also eggs, or accidentally, once struck by watercraft propellers or entangled in fishing nets till they drown. (Read \"This turtle Tourist Center also Raises threatened Turtles for Meat\")

As for the young turtle’s victim: if the jellyfish isn’t torn to shreds, there’s a possibility it might survive come regrow its lost tentacles.

Though the separation, personal, instance in this video bears a solid resemblance come the lion’s mane jellyfish (Cyanea capillata) found in the cold waters of the Arctic and also northern Atlantic oceans, it’s most likely a member that a associated species, differentiated by the red stripes approximately the base of that bell and also its Australian habitat.

Both species often reap symbiotic relationships with tiny fish, choose the butterfish seen in this video, i beg your pardon eat the jellyfish’s leftovers in return for security from predators.

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Correction: a previous variation of this short article mistakenly listed there are eight varieties of sea turtle; in fact, over there are just seven.