Sea Gooseberries at Rhossili

Sea Gooseberry. Pleurobrachia pileus (Muller), a small transparent jelly-like seashore creature, held in my hand on the beach at Rhossili Bay with Worms Head in the background, Gower, South Wales, UK (1)

Holding a Sea Gooseberry, Pleurobrachia pileus (Muller), up to the light to see the internal organs. Through the transparent jelly you can see the retracted tentacles. The rows of “combs” are visible on the outer surface running from the oral (mouth) to the aboral surface. Quite a few of these creatures wash up with the incoming tide at Rhossili Bay, Gower. In the background of the picture you can just see the Worms Head.

Sea Gooseberry, Pleurobrachia pileus (Muller), a small transparent jelly-like seashore creature, held in my hand on the beach at Rhossili Bay, Gower, South Wales, UK (2)

Sea Gooseberry, Pleurobrachia pileus (Muller), a small transparent jelly-like seashore creature, held in my hand on the beach at Rhossili Bay, Gower, South Wales, UK (3) 

The Sea Gooseberry, Pleurobranchia pileus Muller, is a seashore creature belonging to the group known as Ctenophores. The characteristics are:

  • Transparent, gelatinous, planktonic species
  • Solid, ovoid, gooseberry-shaped body
  • 17-20mm high
  • Swims using eight rows of ciliary plates or comb rows
  • Comb rows extend from aboral surface almost to the mouth
  • Each comb has transverse rows of hair-like but mobile cilia fused onto a small plate
  • Two long retractile tentacles extend 15 to 20 times the body length
  • Tentacles are sticky with fine filaments on one side
  • Sea-gooseberries are carnivores that capture plankton with their sticky tentacles
  • Appear to shimmer as they swim and are phosphorescent at night
  • Found in all British coastal waters – often in swarms
  • Present from March to November but most abundant in summer

Information retrieved from:

Pocket Nature Seashore, Chris Gibson, Dorling Kindersley, 2008, ISBN 978 1 4053 2862 3, page 213.

Sea shore of Britain and Europe, Collins Pocket Guide, Peter Hayward, Tony Nelson-Smith and Chris Shields, 1996, ISBN 0 00 219955 6, pages 76-77.

Handbook of the Marine Fauna of North-West Europe, Edited by P. J. Hayward and J. S. Ryland, Oxford University Press, 1995, ISBN 0 19 854055 8 (Pbk), page 134. 

 MarLIN The Marine Life Information Network for Britain and Ireland run by the Marine Biological Association UK. http://www.marlin.ac.uk/speciesinformation.php?speciesID=4140

Sea Gooseberry, Pleurobrachia pileus (Muller), a small transparent jelly-like seashore creature, washed up on the sand with the sun shining through it, at Rhossili Bay, Gower, South Wales, UK (4)

COPYRIGHT JESSICA WINDER 2011

All Rights Reserved

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5 thoughts on “Sea Gooseberries at Rhossili

  1. Thank you, Galen. I think Sea Gooseberries are like small jewels – the way they reflect and refract the light. Do you get these animals on the Point Reyes Seashore?

  2. We have many types of jellyfish that wash ashore and that I see while kayaking, but I have never seen one that was so intricately textured on its outside, especially for its size. The gooseberry truly appears much more jewel like than what I am used to. Beautiful find. Hopefully I will see some in person one day

  3. The small size would probably make these creatures difficult to spot in the water while kayaking – although they are supposed to be phosphorescent at night if you were ever on the water after sunset. I have only spotted them washed ashore when the sun has glinted on them; they would be very easy to overlook.

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