Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Sea Gooseberry
















Today's Guardian Country Diary is about this sea gooseberry Pleurobrachia pileus that we found stranded on the sands at Seaburn beach near Sunderland. When I scooped it up into this container and added sea water it was still alive but it died before I could return it to the sea.


Sea gooseberries are correctly called Ctenophores but in these closer images you can see why they are also known as comb jellies - there are eight rows of beating cilia, arranged like combs, along their flanks, providing propulsion and maintaining their position in the plankton.


Sea gooseberries are predators, trailing a pair of tentacles that trap planktonic fish larvae and the larvae of crabs and molluscs.



They are planktonic drifters and are quite often stranded on beaches, especially when there is a rough sea that sends waves high up the beach. This rather forlorn specimen reminds me of a deflating airship but when they are alive their are exquisite creatures. They are as transparent as glass but this bands of beating cilia create waves of green and blue iridescence along their flanks.

















For a closer look at sea gooseberries, with tentacles extended and some movie, see

http://cabinetofcuriosities-greenfingers.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/sea%20gooseberry

and 

http://beyondthehumaneye.blogspot.co.uk/2009/09/sea-gooseberries.html

and


http://beyondthehumaneye.blogspot.co.uk/2009/09/sea-gooseberry-videos.html




9 comments:

  1. Yet another wonder to look for. Thanks for the links.

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  2. It looks very interesting. I had never heard of them before.

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    1. You might like this YouTube movie about the surface life of the oceans https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFQ_fO2D7f0#t=87

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    1. Plankton moved the marine biologist Walter Garstang to write poetry. The Ballad of the Veliger or How the Gastropod got its Twist is his most famous effort, reproduced at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Garstang

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  6. Looks like a type of jellyfish. I presume they might accidentally sting humans just like them, causing painful rashes, right?

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    1. They don't have a sting that can be felt by humans - they're completely harmless to us.

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