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.
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.
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
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