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Jellyfish use jet propulsion to move forward, according to http://earthsky.org/earth/how-do-jellyfish-swim. Otherwise, they drift with the ocean currents.

Does this mean that, without the presence of water currents, jellyfish cannot swim backwards?

(This question was inspired by watching countless SpongeBob episodes and seeing the efficiency in which SB catches jellyfish).

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    $\begingroup$ I don't know what you mean by swim backward. technically for a jellyfish, I don't know how you can state which is the front and which is the back.. $\endgroup$ – The Last Word May 24 '14 at 9:36
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Jellyfish move by a form of jet propulsion and it moves in the direction that the head is facing. If it needs to change direction, it just needs to pivot and propel itself in the direction that it needs to move. Comb jellies (which are not really jellyfish) have cilia that beat continuously in the water for it to move forward. So water currents are not necessary. Here is an article with videos on how jellyfish move.

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No.

They're locomotion only allows for forward/upward motion. That said, their buoyancy control does provide a measure of 'backward' or 'sinking' motion, but it's negligible.

But to convert this all into the simplest terms: Jellyfish uses a form of jet propulsion. Ever seen a jet go backwards? (The Harrier does not count.)

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