Over 200 different species, or types of jellyfish are found throughout the world's oceans and seas. These invertebrates, animals lacking backbones, belong to the phylum Cnidaria (ny-DARE-ee-uh). They come in many shapes and sizes, ranging from the tiny, spherical thimble jellyfish of the Caribbean to the largest jellyfish of them all, the Arctic lion's mane, whose tentacles may stretch over 100 feet in length.

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But what exactly are these creatures that are neither jelly nor fish? Is there anything else to them beyond their stinging reputation? The word "jellyfish" often brings to mind a white, gelatinous blob encountered on the beach, and many people react to jellyfish with instant fear. Although they do not resemble any other animals on earth, and appear quite bizarre, they are relatives of sea anemones and coral.


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