Post by James O'Neill on Jul 10, 2014 15:59:17 GMT
Here's something you might not have seen before!
I found these sea gooseberries yesterday on the east coast of Northern Ireland. Sea Gooseberries are part of the branch of animals called Ctenophores, or Comb Jellies - they are thought to be the most basal lineage of animal after sea sponges, and despite appearances are not any more related to Jellyfish than they are to mammals. They are made up of mainly a globe of colourless jelly, 99% water, and have a simple body structure. There are 8 ridges running along their body, each having a row of cilia, which propel them along in the water. Two long, but entirely retractable, feathered tentacles hang out behind the body to snare small prey items. Sea gooseberries are about 2cm long with 15cm long tentacles and are common enough in the shallow water around Britain.
It was the first time I'd ever seen them, and, needless to say, I was so fascinated I took a few of them home to study and to get some footage. The bright colours are not bioluminescence (sea gooseberries can't bioluminesce but most species of comb jelly actually can, with a pale green or blue light) but light refracted by the moving cilia. They quite alien don't they!
When I go to the coast in Norfolk, I see loads of these on the beach as I'm walking along. I've always wondered what they were, and now I know. I an see why they are called Sea Gooseberries! Thanks for sharing James.
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