Some of the species that have been observed using Lévy walks to locate their meals include sharks, penguins, honeybees, ants, turtles and even human hunter-gatherers.
But among these many species, the barrel jelly stands out because, in addition to exhibiting this Lévy walk pattern, it also engages several search methods that others species don't seem to use.
One of the barrel jelly's search-optimizing behaviors, often referred to as a "bounce," occurs when the jellyfish starts out in one depth of water and then makes a long glide either upwards or downwards to a different depth of water. If it doesn't find a meal in the new location, the jellyfish will "bounce" again to return to its original position.
Some scientists believe that the jelly's tendency to bounce around in the water may actually hinder its ability to search for food, but according to Reynolds, these unusual animals have had it right all along.
The jellyfish, which will sometimes repeat its pattern of bounces dozens of times a day, uses this strategy to slowly home in on the highest concentrations of plankton, Reynolds explained.