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Box Jellyfish Use Terrestrial Visual Cues for Navigation

  • Anders Garm
  • Magnus Oskarsson
  • Dan-E Nilsson
Publishing year: 2011
Language: English
Pages: 798-803
Publication/Series: Current Biology
Volume: 21
Issue: 9
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract english

Box jellyfish have an impressive set of 24 eyes of four different types, including eyes structurally similar to those of vertebrates and cephalopods [1, 2]. However, the known visual responses are restricted to simple phototaxis, shadow responses, and object avoidance responses [3-8], and it has been a puzzle why they need such a complex set of eyes. Here we report that medusae of the box jellyfish Tripedalia cystophora are capable of visually guided navigation in mangrove swamps using terrestrial structures seen through the water surface. They detect the mangrove canopy by an eye type that is specialized to peer up through the water surface and that is suspended such that it is constantly looking straight up, irrespective of the orientation of the jellyfish. The visual information is used to navigate to the preferred habitat at the edge of mangrove lagoons.


  • Zoology
  • Computer Vision and Robotics (Autonomous Systems)
  • Mathematics


  • ISSN: 1879-0445
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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