Life For A Fish Swimming Inside A Jellyfish May Be Just Grand

At first it may look like doom for a fish inside a stinging jellyfish, but it appears all part of the plan.

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Tim Samuel captured this image of a fish swimming inside a jellyfish off Byron Bay, Australia. Via Tim Samuel/Instagram
John Virata

Australian surf and ocean photographer Tim Samuel was snorkeling off Pass Beach in Byron Bay, Australia, when he captured the most peculiar sight: a fish seemingly trapped inside a jellyfish. Samuel posted the photo to Reddit recently, and it caught the eyes of people all over the world.

“I have never seen anything like it,” Samuel told Australian Geographic.

“It seemed completely trapped in there, like it had somehow managed to swim inside and then was unable to back itself out. The fish was able to propel the jellyfish forward and controlled its movement to an extent, the jellyfish threw it off balance though and they would wobble around, and sometimes get stuck doing circles. I contemplating freeing the fish as I felt bad for it, but in the end decided to just let nature run its course, which was a difficult decision for me to make.”

It appears though that the phenomenon has been witnessed before, and that the fish can leave the confines of the jellyfish at will. After Samuel’s photo went viral, snorkeler Brent Collins sent Samuel a video he took of a smiliar encounter with a jellyfish and a fish at Double Reef Beach in Guam back in 2013. Collins told Samuel that he watched the fish leave the jellyfish and then swim back inside the jellyfish several times.

@franny.plumridge and I were starting to think we were the only ones to witness anything like my Fish Trapped in a Jellyfish photo. That was until this afternoon when I received a very exciting email “I too have witnessed this rare phenomenon. I captured it on video while snorkeling at Double Reef beach in Guam in 2013. Over the course of several minutes I watched the fish exit the Jellyfish, swim back inside the Jellyfish, and apparently steer the Jellyfish at will, and repeat. I researched the unusual behavior when I first encountered it, however could not find anything on the internet to explain the behavior. Perhaps others will communicate their experiences and a collaborative understanding of this behavior will immerge” – words and video from Brent Collins A video posted by Tim Samuel (@timsamuelphotography) on

Fish biologist Ian Tibbetts with the Centre for Marine Science at the University of Queensland told Australian Geographic that the fish may be a juvenile Trevally, which are known to take advantage of jellyfish by swimming amongst their stingers for protection. He said the jellyfish may be a cubomedusa, a type of stinging jellyfish.

The image Samuel shared with the world definitely details how interesting the ocean is as well as how the ocean’s inhabitants interact with each other.

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