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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

 Pelagia noctiluca may grow to 10 cm in diameter. The medusa colour varies from pale red to mauve-brown or purple and the exumbrella surface is covered in pink or mauve nematocyst-bearing warts. The mushroom shaped, deep bell has 16 marginal lobes, eight marginal sense organs and eight, hair-like marginal tentacles. These thin tentacles may extend as far as 3 m. All tentacles on Pelagia noctiluca are covered in nematocysts. The manubrium bears four thick, frilled oral arms. This species has no sessile stage and the adults release juvenile medusae in the autumn.Pelagia noctiluca feed mainly on pelagic ascidians and other small jellyfish (Hayward et al., 1996).

Although the sting of Pelagia noctiluca is potent and painful, it is limited in time and extent (Williamson et al., 1996).

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Distribution

Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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semi-cosmopolitan
  • UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms
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Geographic Range

Found in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean, it lives mainly in the open ocean as well as in coastal waters. (Grzimek 1972)

Biogeographic Regions: atlantic ocean (Native )

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Like other Cnidarians, this species is radially symmetrical. They have distinct tissues, but no organs, and only one body opening. The tissues are the outer epidermis, the inner gastrodermis, and a middle layer of gelatinous mesoglea, which has a cartilege-like consistency. The medusa stage is most prominant, and no bottom-dwelling stage exists. The umbrella edge is divided into eight lobes, where sense organs such as light receptors and odor pits are located. The umbrella can be bell-shaped or hemispherical, and color can range from purple to brownish-red. Pelagia noctiluca has a frilled edge on the bell, with eight thin, stinging tentacles and four lobes hanging down from the mouth, called oral arms. The tentacles are very elastic. The name means "night light" in German for a reason. Very colorful, this jellyfish phosphoresces when disturbed and can leave a luminous mucous behind if handled. It is called the "mauve jelly" by the British. Also known as the oceanic jelly, this species is adapted to life in the open water. It is in the class Scyphozoa, the true jellyfish. The estimated lifespan of Pelagia noctiluca is two to six months, and death is usually caused by rough waters. (Grzimek 1972; Stachowitsch 1991;Calder 2000; Marr 1999)

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Ecology

Habitat

oceanic
  • UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms
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pelagic
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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The habitat is primarily pelagic, or in the open ocean. However, this species can survive almost anywhere ocean currents carry it, including benthic and temperate coastal habitats. (Calder 2000;Grzimek 1972)

Aquatic Biomes: benthic ; coastal

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Depth range based on 81 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 68 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 2983
  Temperature range (°C): 2.548 - 22.868
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.169 - 44.379
  Salinity (PPS): 34.445 - 36.586
  Oxygen (ml/l): 0.129 - 6.302
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.034 - 3.232
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.903 - 132.313

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 2983

Temperature range (°C): 2.548 - 22.868

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.169 - 44.379

Salinity (PPS): 34.445 - 36.586

Oxygen (ml/l): 0.129 - 6.302

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.034 - 3.232

Silicate (umol/l): 0.903 - 132.313
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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 Pelagia noctiluca is an oceanic species widely distributed in warm and temperate waters.
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Carnivorous like other Cnidarians, this species preys mainly on zooplankton, small fish, crustaceans, other jellyfish, and eggs. Pelagia noctiluca captures its prey with tentacles armed with cnidocytes, each of which contains a nematocyst. Nematocysts have barbed filaments to trap their prey and toxins to stun them. They can even pierce the shell of a crab with their barbs. Food is digested intracellularly as well as extracellularly, in a gut cavity, enabling them to eat multicellular animals. (Raven and Johnson 1999; Banister and Campbell 1985)

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Diet

fish and benthic animals
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Reproduction

The adults, which have separate sexes, reproduce sexually by releasing gametes from gonads located near the center of the body. The ova and sperm are released through the mouth of the jellyfish, and fertilize externally. Each fertilized egg forms a planulae, an undifferentiated mass of cells that swims with external cilia. Planula may be widely dispersed by oceanic currents. Unlike other species which have a bottom-dwelling polyp stage, Pelagia noctiluca's planulae develop directly into ephyrae, young medusae. The ephyrae quickly grows into an adult medusa, completing the life cycle. (Banister and Campbell 1985; Stachowitsch 1991;Calder 2000)

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Pelagia noctiluca

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


No available public DNA sequences.

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Pelagia noctiluca

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 15
Specimens with Barcodes: 15
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

-Pelagia noctiluca- is not in danger of extinction at the present time. They are multiplying in number in the Mediterranean, but are expected to return to normal levels in the next few years. (Marr 1999)

US Federal List: no special status

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

-Pelagia noctiluca- is among the jellyfish that scare tourists away from beaches, especially in the Mediterranean. Italian beaches were overrun by large groups of them in the summer of 1999. The sting of -Pelagia noctiluca- is venomous to humans, but normally only causes a whip-like scar across the body. In rare cases of allergic reactions, life-threatening conditions like anaphylactic shock can occur. Fishermen are also affected by jellyfish, including -Pelagia noctiluca- . There have been reports from France of jellyfish tearing holes in fishing nets. (Marr 1999;Calder 2000)

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Pelagia noctiluca are beautiful, especially when they phosphoresce. The chemical reactions causing their luminescence are currently of great interest to researchers. Other jellyfish are used for medical and therapeutic purposes, and Pelagia noctiluca might soon be helpful for humans. One possible use of their fluorescent protein is as a genetic marker to detect protein movement or gene expression in research in developmental, environmental and medical biology. (Manning 1997)

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Wikipedia

Pelagia noctiluca

Pelagia noctiluca (Forsskal, 1775) is a jellyfish, belonging to the family Pelagiidae.

In Greek Pelagia means “of the sea”, nocti stands for night and luca means light thus Pelagia noctiluca can be described as a marine organism with the ability to glow in the dark.

This species of jellyfish commonly known as the mauve stinger in Europe, amongst many other common names, is widely distributed in all warm and temperate waters of the world's oceans, including the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea and Atlantic Ocean. It is also found in the Pacific Ocean, with sightings in warm waters off Hawaii, southern California and Mexico, as well as other Pacific locations. This is typically an offshore species, although sometimes it is washed near the coastlines and may be stranded in great numbers on beaches. The color varies worldwide, and in addition to pink or mauve, it is sometimes shades of golden yellow to tan.

In an unprecedented event on November 21, 2007, an enormous 10-square-mile (26 km2) swarm of billions of these jellyfish wiped out a 100,000-fish salmon farm in Northern Ireland, causing around £1 million in damages.[1]

Contents

Classification of P. noctiluca

P. noctiluca is an animal, thus non-photosynthetic, multicellular eukaryote, in the phylum Cnidaria. Being a cnidarian it is diploblastic, having an ectoderm and endoderm separated by an ectodermally derived mesoglea that can be cellular or acellular.

The body is radially symmetrical. There is only one body cavity (coelenteron) known as the gastrovascular cavity. This is a primitive gut or digestive cavity with only one opening that acts as a mouth and anus; there are four long oral arms with crenulated margins that are the primary feeding surface. Each P. noctiluca medusa has 8 long tentacles that emerge from the umbrella margin. Being radially symmetrical it has no head and thus no centralized nervous system. The nervous system present is primitive, consisting of a simple net composed of naked and largely non-polar neurons. In addition P. noctiluca also lacks a gaseous exchange, excretory and circulatory system. However cnidaria have evolved cnidae, cells which serve for a variety of functions that include prey capture, defense, locomotion and attachment. When fully formed cnidae are called cnidocytes. When stimulated the cnidae secrete nematocyst toxins that are biological poisons.

P. noctiluca is a member of the cnidarian class Scyphozoa and adapted to a pelagic mode of life. Whereas most scyphozoan jellyfish (also called scyphomedusae) have a complex life cycle with both the pelagic (swimming) jellyfish, or medusa, stage and a bottom-living polyp stage, Pelagia has adapted in such a way that the polyp stage is absent, thus direct development exists. The male and female jellyfish spawn respectively sperm and eggs, which develop directly into young (male or female) Pelagia noctiluca jellyfish. These organisms have a well developed manubrium, a proboscis-like structure bearing the mouth and four long oral arms. Also the mesoglea, or jelly, is relatively thickened and well developed in this species. Sense organs, known as rhopalia in the scyphomedusae, are located around the umbrella margin in notches and alternate between tentacles. Cnidae are present in the epidermis and gastrodermis of the umbrella as well as on the tentacles.

Pelagia, like other jellyfish in the scyphozoan order Semaeostomeae are mainly distinguished from the other orders by having simple oral arms with frilled or folded lips. The order semaestomae comprises three families: Pelagiidae, Cyaneidae,and Ulmaridae, distinguishable by the following characters:

  • 1. Gastrovascular cavity divided by radial septa into rhopalar and tentacular pouches.
  • 2. Gastrovascular system in form of unbranched and branching canals, or with anastomosing radial canals – Ulmaridae

In addition, members of the Pelagiidae have no ring canal, and the marginal tentacles arise from umbrella margin. There are three genera in this family.

Structure and adaptations of Pelagia noctiluca

Pelagia noctiluca medusa near Sicily in the western Mediterranean Sea.

P. noctiluca has eight marginal tentacles alternating with eight marginal sense organs. This species reproduces sexually. Four gonads arise as elongated endodermal proliferations, developing into a ribbon-like folds in the interradial sectors of the stomach wall slightly distal to the rows of gastric filaments. Male and female gonads vary only slightly and the main difference is the thickness of the follicle. Eggs are laid between 12pm and 2pm in December in Mediterranean specimens as described by Metschnikoff (1886). After 3 days the egg develops in a planula at this stage movement is only done by ciliary action. After 7 days planulae develop into ephyra which develop into young medusa after a month.

Feeding reactions were studied by Bozler (1926), where a piece of food was given to the marginal tentacle, the tentacle contracted quickly. There was a slow contraction of the coronal muscle which brought the tentacle nearer to the mouth. The food was grasped by the lip of one of the oral arm and transported slowly along until it reached the stomach. They were found to feed on Thalia democratica, however they are found mainly to feed by taking food particle by the amoeboid process of the endoderm cells, thus being suspension feeders.

Movement is caused when the medusa pulsates, the marginal tentacles are contracted, straightened and stiffened. Pulsation was found to be optimal between 8° to 26 °C. Movement is only restricted vertically and thus P. noctiluca are carried in large swarms by currents.

As its name implies P. noctiluca has the ability to bioluminesce, or produce light. Light is given off in the form of flashes when the medusa is stimulated by turbulence created by a ship’s motion or by waves. This flashing is only of relatively short duration and gradually fades.

Notes

  1. ^ "Billions of jellyfish wipe out salmon farm". MSNBC. November 21, 2007. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21922361/. Retrieved 28 January 2010. 

References

  • Russell, F.S. 1970. The Medusae of the British Isles, Volume 2: Pelagic Scyphozoa, with a supplement to Vol. I. Cambridge University Press
  • R.S.K. Barnes 1998. The Diversity of Living Organisms, Blackwell Science
  • R.S.K. Barnes, P. Calow and P.J.W Olive 1993, The Invertebrates (second edition) Blackwell Science
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