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Sea Gooseberry

Pleurobrachia pileus (O. F. Müller 1776)

Biology

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Despite their delicate, almost ghostly appearance, sea-gooseberries are voracious predators, feeding on fish eggs and larvae, molluscs, copepod crustaceans, and even other sea-gooseberries (5). Prey is caught by the long tentacles, which act as a net and bear adhesive cells known as colloblasts. The tentacles are then 'reeled in' and the prey is passed to the mouth (2). This species is hermaphroditic. Breeding occurs from spring to autumn; the eggs and sperm are released into the water and fertilisation therefore occurs externally. The larva, known as a 'cydippid larva' is free-swimming. Most individuals die following spawning. This species may be preyed upon by fish and other sea-gooseberries (2).
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Conservation

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Conservation action is not required for this common species.
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Description

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Members of the phylum Ctenophora are known as sea-gooseberries or comb-jellies, and are startlingly beautiful marine invertebrates. They are commonly mistaken for jellyfish, but belong to their own group that is totaally unrelated to jellyfish (3). Pleurobrachia pileus has a transparent spherical body bearing two feathery tentacles, which can be completely drawn back into special pouches. The name comb-jelly refers to the eight rows of hair-like cilia present on the body, which are known as comb-rows. The rhythmic beating of these cilia enables the animal to swim, and also refracts light, creating a multi-coloured shimmer (2).
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Habitat

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This species is pelagic. It may be found in rock pools when stranded by low tides, especially in summer (4).
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Range

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This sea-gooseberry has an almost cosmopolitan distribution, being found widely around the world (2). It is common in the waters surrounding Britain (4).
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Status

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Not threatened (2).
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Threats

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This species is not threatened.
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Brief Summary

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Sea gooseberries are about as large and slippery as a peeled gooseberry. They can actively move around, although not very quickly. They have 8 rows of swimming plates on their body. Should you happen to shine a light on a swimming sea gooseberry while diving, you will see the plates light up with the wave movements. They can color all the variations in a rainbow. If you look closely on the beach, you may find some stranded by the waterline. You don't have to worry about being stung by a sea gooseberry. It doesn't have stinging cells.
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Diagnostic Description

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Tentacles are often pink in color. When preserved in formalin maintain their shape relatively well. Size 15-25 mm.

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Distribution

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Widely distributed species. In the Arctic found in the Barents and Kara Seas.

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Morphology

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Body close to sphere shaped. The number of combs in each rows varies from 8 to 29. Tentacles are tens of times longer than the body when extended; tentacle pouches are present. Tentacles are often pink in color. When preserved in formalin maintain their shape relatively well.

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Pleurobrachia pileus

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Pleurobrachia pileus is a species of comb jelly, commonly known as a sea gooseberry. It is found in open water in the northern Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, and was first described by the Danish zoologist Otto Friedrich Müller in 1776.

Description

Pleurobrachia pileus is a small, globular or ovoid comb jelly up to about 2.5 cm (1 in) in length. It has a pair of long tentacles that are used to catch prey and can be retracted into sheaths. The tentacles are up to twenty times the length of the body and are fringed with filaments along one edge.[2] The body bears four pairs of longitudinal rows of cilia known as combs which extend about three quarters the length of the animal between its mouth and its aboral (opposite) end. The cilia are mounted on short transverse plates which are bioluminescent.

It is the beating of the cilia in synchrony that allows the animal to swim and that gives it an iridescent appearance. The body is transparent and the comb rows milky white. The tentacles, sheaths and pharynx are also milky white, or dull orange in some individuals.[2][3]

Distribution

Pleurobrachia pileus occurs in the northern Atlantic Ocean and along the northwestern coasts of Europe. Its range includes the Baltic Sea, the Skagerrak, the Kattegat and the North Sea. It is a pelagic species, occurring in open water, but is sometimes found in rock pools or washed up on the beach.[3] It also occurs off the eastern Atlantic coasts of North America, and in the Black Sea.

This comb jelly is common around the coasts of Britain and in the North Sea in early summer. The populations in the Baltic Sea are dependent on the inflow of saline water from the North Sea.[4]

Ecology

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P. pileus in Gullmarn fjord, Sweden

Pleurobrachia pileus is a predator and feeds on such actively swimming prey as gammarid amphipods, crab zoeal larvae, barnacle cyprid larvae and calanoid copepods. Over much of its range it co-exists with another species of comb jelly, Bolinopsis infundibulum. The two species are found not to compete for food as their feeding habits differ. P. pileus remains motionless while it snares larger prey with its long tentacles, whereas B. infundibulum draws in a feeding current of water and filters out the smaller, more weakly swimming, tiny zooplankton.[5]

In the North Sea, P. pileus makes large daily vertical migrations as do its main copepod prey. They spend the night in upper waters, usually just below the thermocline, descending to deep waters between 80 and 150 metres (260 and 490 ft) in the early morning, and rising again in late afternoon.[4] These migrations do not take place in the winter and at this period, P. pileus remains close to the sediment, often with a cessation of movement of the combs of cilia. This change in behaviour may be due to the scarcity of prey in the water column at this time of year. When on or near the sediment, this comb jelly is preyed upon by crustaceans such as the hermit crab Pagurus bernhardus, the crab Carcinus maenas and the shrimp Crangon crangon.[6]

References

  1. ^ WoRMS (2014). "Pleurobrachia pileus (O. F. Müller, 1776)". WoRMS. World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 2015-03-15.
  2. ^ a b Neal, Ken (2005). "Sea gooseberry - Pleurobrachia pileus". Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information. MarLIN. Retrieved 2015-03-16.
  3. ^ a b van Couwelaar, M. "Pleurobrachia pileus". Zooplankton and Micronekton of the North Sea. Marine Species Identification Portal. Retrieved 2015-03-16.
  4. ^ a b Özsoy, Emin; Mikaelyan, Alexander (1997). Sensitivity to Change. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 124–125. ISBN 978-94-011-5758-2.
  5. ^ Costello, John H.; Coverdale, Rebecca (1998). "Planktonic feeding and evolutionary significance of the lobate body plan within the Ctenophora" (PDF). The Biological Bulletin. 195 (2): 197–198. doi:10.2307/1542863. JSTOR 1542863. PMID 28570175.
  6. ^ Esser, M.; Greve, W.; Boersma, M. (2004). "Effects of temperature and the presence of benthic predators on the vertical distribution of the ctenophore Pleurobrachia pileus" (PDF). Marine Biology. 145 (3): 595–601. doi:10.1007/s00227-004-1348-0.

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Pleurobrachia pileus: Brief Summary

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Pleurobrachia pileus is a species of comb jelly, commonly known as a sea gooseberry. It is found in open water in the northern Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, and was first described by the Danish zoologist Otto Friedrich Müller in 1776.

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Diet

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predaceous on fish fry, copepods, and other small organisms of zooplankton
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North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Distribution

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cosmopolitan
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North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Distribution

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Maine to Florida and Texas
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North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Habitat

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upper epipelagic and glacial
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North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Mary Kennedy [email]