This ctenophore is the only species in the genus Lampoctena due to various differences between it and other comb jellies. Comb jellies are not actual jellyfish, as they propel themselves via the iridescent cilia instead of stinging tentacles.
In the depths of the ocean, the bright red color of the jellies appears black, allowing for good camouflage. Their color also helps cover the bioluminescent prey that it feeds on.
They are found in the depths of the Pacific Ocean near San Diego, but due to their coloration, are quite hard to find in the wild.
Although comb jellies seem to be little more than tennis ball-sized blobs in the sea, these organisms are relatively sophisticated in how they use light. The creatures flash a blue-green light at predators, for example, possibly to startle them.
Researchers studying the genome of the comb jelly, also known as a ctenophore, have discovered that the bioluminescent creatures pack in 10 proteins for generating light. They have other proteins called opsins that detect light, even though comb jellies lack eyes, the team reports today in BMC Biology. It’s not clear what the opsins do in this animal. The genome is the first to be sequenced from a bioluminescent animal.
Because ctenophores appear to sit at the base of the animal tree of life, the findings suggest that light-generating and sensing proteins evolved at the same time as multicellularity. Such proteins may have given rise to the diversity of light-sensing molecules seen in animals today, such as in the rods and cones in human eyes. And studying them, the researchers say, could lead to new insights into the origin of eyes and therapies for treating sight disorders.
(via: Science NOW) (photo: Bill Browne, Univ. of Miami)
Jellies: Jellyfish and Comb Jellies in the Deep Sea
Deep-water exploration continues to reveal the existence of previously unknown gelatinous animals. Although many mid-water gelatinous animals are undoubtedly still to be discovered, we do know that they are extremely important predators in this ecosystem. As we learn more about them, we will better understand the complex biological, chemical, and physical interactions within this realm — suspended between the surface and the sea floor.
Learn more about efforts to study the marine biodiversity within the deep basin of the Celebes Sea, south of the island of Mindanao in the Philippines:
Before talking about today’s double-dive day, we wanted to share some of the images from last night following the return of the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to the surface. Once the ROV gets back to the Western Flyer, there is an organized frenzy of activity as we remove all the samples from the ROV and get them into the wet lab for processing.
We saw some amazing organisms today, and some surprises. Taonius is always entertaining to watch—we took some video and let this animal swim away. We found Octopoteuthis with a fascinating circle of spermatangia on her back. Once this female is ready, she will fertilize her eggs from the sperm contained in these spermatangia. And then we found a ctenophore—Lampocteis—a beautiful red lobate ctenophore that was being eaten by Aegina—a narcomedusa jelly…
Eerie critters from the deep sea: Predators and Scavengers
For Halloween 2012, deep-sea animals eating or scavenging for food. In order of appearance: Black ghost shark eating a dead fish, galaxy siphonophore digesting a live fish, crab scavenging a whale bone, comb jelly eating another comb jelly (footage courtesy of NHK), small octopus hunting, black-eye squid feeding on a juvenile, Humboldt squid eating squid hatchlings.
The comb jelly (ctenophore) Thalassocalyce inconstans is found in shallow to deep water in the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and sometimes in warmer Pacific Ocean waters off the coast of California — although this one was photographed in the Sargasso Sea by Census of Marine Zooplankton researchers.
T. inconstans has a very different feeding behavior than other ctenophores. Most ctenophores use muscles to suck in large volumes of water to capture prey. But T. inconstans has little muscle; instead, it waits until a euphausiid (small crustacean) or copepod accidentally swims inside its bell, where it sticks to the mucus-covered inner surface. Then the ctenophore closes its bell shut very fast — in less than half of a second!
Like this ctenophore (Aulococtena acuminata), many animals that live in the midwater zone are red—making them almost invisible in the dim blue light that filters down from the sea surface. This small comb jelly snares prey with its two short tentacles.
This animal, which looks like a watery, pink football, is actually a fierce deep-sea predator (though it is only a few inches long). It is a ctenophore (aka “comb jelly”) called Beroe abyssicola.
Ctenophores are gelatinous animals that swim by waving tiny hair-like projections called “ctenes.” Beroe abyssicola also has tiny hairs that act like “teeth” that help it grab onto its prey. When Beroe bumps into another jelly, it grabs on using these teeth, opens its mouth (at left) really wide, and tries to swallow its prey whole.
Many animals that live in the midwater zone are red—making them almost invisible in the dim blue light that filters down from the sea surface. This small comb jelly snares prey with its two short tentacles.
(via: Smithsonian Ocean Portal)
(photo: Marsh Youngbluth/MAR-ECO, Census of Marine Life)
Ctenophores get their name from the 8 rows of combs or ctens used to move the animals through the waters in “stealth” mode. There are three major designs, those with 2 tenticles used in feeding, those with large lobes used to concentrate prey, and those with neither that suck in other ctenophores through large mouths. Those with tentacles have special sticky cells that differ significantly from the cnidarians.
Ctenophores are the most fragile of all the zooplankton. Most do not survive collection with nets, and cannot even be preserved because they are too watery. This means there are probably a large number of species that await discovery. Observations by divers and underwater robots show they can be common and important predators of other zooplankton.
Among the most primitive multi-cellular groups, basically two layers of skin with jelly in between them. They are also characterized by a bi-radial symmetry only found in a few other phyla. Some deep-water species are the size of grapefruit or American footballs but most are slightly smaller, down to the size of grapes. Ctenophores an be found at all depths in all oceans. We have no idea how long they live in the Arctic.
Until recently only 5 species were known from the Arctic. ArcOD scientists have increased thie number to 10 species, several of which are undescribed (i.e. new species).
A new video from TEDEducation about the beautiful, mysterious food web at the smallest scales of marine life. This is like stepping onto an alien world! All life on Earth depends in some way on these varied, microscopic wonders. A few tablespoons of seawater holds more marine life than there are people on Earth.
There is grandeur in this tiny view of life. Prepare to pick your jaw up off the floor, and then smile.
The absolutely stunning, intoxicating, mesmerizing (and other adjectives too) life of plankton. Smile indeed.