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Visual control of steering in the box jellyfish Tripedalia cystophora.

  • Ronald Petie
  • Anders Garm
  • Dan-E Nilsson
Publishing year: 2011
Language: English
Pages: 2809-2815
Publication/Series: Journal of Experimental Biology
Volume: 214
Issue: Pt 17
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: The Company of Biologists Ltd

Abstract english

Box jellyfish carry an elaborate visual system consisting of 24 eyes, which they use for driving a number of behaviours. However, it is not known how visual input controls the swimming behaviour. In this study we exposed the Caribbean box jellyfish Tripedalia cystophora to simple visual stimuli and recorded changes in their swimming behaviour. Animals were tethered in a small experimental chamber, where we could control lighting conditions. The behaviour of the animals was quantified by tracking the movements of the bell, using a high-speed camera. We found that the animals respond predictably to the darkening of one quadrant of the equatorial visual world by (1) increasing pulse frequency, (2) creating an asymmetry in the structure that constricts the outflow opening of the bell, the velarium, and (3) delaying contraction at one of the four sides of the bell. This causes the animals to orient their bell in such a way that, if not tethered, they would turn and swim away from the dark area. We conclude that the visual system of T. cystophora has a predictable effect on swimming behaviour.


  • Zoology


  • ISSN: 1477-9145
Dan-E Nilsson
E-mail: dan-e [dot] nilsson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Functional zoology

+46 46 222 93 45

+46 70 623 10 64



Research group

Lund Vision Group


Doctoral students and postdocs

Phd Students, main supervisor


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