Photo essay: Abu Dhabi's jellyfish exhibition takes visitors to an alien world

The National Aquarium has worked with marine biologists who specialise in the aquatic creatures' unique life cycle

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From stinging sea nettles to UFO-like moon jellies and giant blubbers, a new exhibition in Abu Dhabi is offering visitors a glimpse into the fascinating world of jellyfish.

The exhibition, called Invasion of the Jellyfish, at The National Aquarium at the Al Qana waterfront destination, showcases some of the most interesting attributes of the colourful aquatic creatures, which are believed to have roamed our seas for more than 600 million years.

There are more than 300,000 species of jellyfish in existence, and the Abu Dhabi exhibition features a stunning number in different shapes and forms in specialised aquariums. The National Aquarium worked with marine biologists who have mastered the jellyfish's unique life cycle in specialised breeding facilities.

Among those featured are moon jellyfish – flying saucer-like translucent creatures with four purple circular markings around the centre. They are found throughout the world's oceans, often floating just below the surface of the water.

The exhibition's name is inspired by the way blooms of jellyfish appear suddenly at a location for no apparent reason. This is part of their life cycle, which includes a dormant phase when they take a plant-like form as polyps and attach themselves to the sea floor.

When something extreme happens in the ocean, such as a sudden temperature change, the polyps start firing out an army of clones. These genetically identical creatures, devoid of brains and made of 98 per cent water, swarm (or 'invade') the beaches, often sparking panic among the public.

Opened in November, The National Aquarium is home to 46,000 creatures from 300 species and is spread across 10 zones.

It is the biggest aquarium in the Middle East with a team of 80 sealife experts caring for the wildlife.

Tickets to The National Aquarium start at Dh110. More information is available at

Updated: August 18, 2023, 6:01 PM