Life Cycle of a Jellyfish


Learn about the interesting and unusual life cycle of a jellyfish and back up what you've learned with our collection of worksheets, colouring pages and printables below.

Life Cycle of a Jellyfish

The jellyfish life cycle is fascinating, with several different stages.

Adult jellyfish, or medusae, gather in large groups to spawn. They release sperm and unfertilised eggs into the sea around them.

Fertilised eggs are left to drift in the ocean, growing into larvae. When each larva reaches the right size, it will attach itself to a surface - usually the seabed.

Now firmly attached, the larva develops into a polyp. It is a strange creature! It has a long stalk which is attached at one end, and a ring of tentacles at the other. The tentacles are able to catch and trap food to feed the polyp. Some species of jellyfish can remain at the polyp stage for years! They just wait until conditions are perfect for the next stage.

What is the next stage? It has a big name: strobilation. The polyp reproduces itself, at the same time absorbing its tentacles into its body. As it reproduces itself it begins to look like a stack of tiny upside-down jellyfish bowls! Eventually these bowls, also called  segments or buds, begin to break apart and swim away - a process known as "budding". Each one is a really tiny living organism, just a few millimetres wide. Each one grows and takes on the shape and tentacles of its particular species of jellyfish. The adult jellyfish, or medusa, drifts around and grows until conditions are right for the life cycle to start again.

The only purpose of a medusa is to reproduce, so adult jellyfish tend to have short lives.

Jellyfish Life Cycle Vocabulary

  • larva (singular), larvae (plural)
  • medusa (singular), medusae (plural)
  • polyp (singular), polyps (plural)

Life Cycle of Jellyfish Teaching Resources

You can find a range of resources to help children learn about the life cycle of a jellyfish below, designed to be used with a range of ages. Choose from colour or black and white versions of most of the printables below.

Jellyfish Word Cards

Jellyfish Word Cards

These jellyfish word cards include many of the words associated with the life cycle of a jellyfish. They can help with spelling some of these unusual words too.

Life cycle of a jellyfish posters

Life Cycle of a Jellyfish Posters

This colourful posters shows the various stages in the life cycle of that beautiful - and scary - underwater creature, the jellyfish!

More Life Cycles

Life Cycle of a Frog
Life Cycle of a Frog

Become a Member to access 39,203 printables!