Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

Body red and/or purple in color; tentacles are red.

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Biology

A common near-surface ctenophore of the Arctic and its marginal seas
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Transparent, red/pink color along the comb rows; Body shape oblong to spherical slightly flattened; Tentacles bulbs prominent; Tentacles with number long side branches (tentilla); Deployed tentacles 10-20 times body length; Specimen preserves, but poorly
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Distribution

Cape Hatteras to the Bay of Fundy
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Cold-water species; circumpolar distribution. Found in most Arctic and sub-Arctic seas.

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Physical Description

Morphology

Body flattened on the sides; one of the axis is 3-4 times shorter than the other. Tentacles are tens of times longer than the body when extended; tentacle pouches are present.

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Size

Length up to 55 mm, width up to 45 mm, thickness up to 15 mm.

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Ecology

Habitat

pelagic
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Depth range based on 283 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 118 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 286
  Temperature range (°C): -1.433 - 7.910
  Nitrate (umol/L): 1.021 - 11.300
  Salinity (PPS): 25.752 - 33.707
  Oxygen (ml/l): 5.806 - 8.972
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.329 - 1.222
  Silicate (umol/l): 3.058 - 20.508

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 286

Temperature range (°C): -1.433 - 7.910

Nitrate (umol/L): 1.021 - 11.300

Salinity (PPS): 25.752 - 33.707

Oxygen (ml/l): 5.806 - 8.972

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.329 - 1.222

Silicate (umol/l): 3.058 - 20.508
 
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Panarctic, mostly in surface waters down to 50 m
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Trophic Strategy

Eats copepods and small crustaceans trapped on sticky tentacles
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Diet

predaceous on fish fry, copepods, and other small organisms of zooplankton
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Life Cycle

Generation times are unknown, probably 1 year
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Wikipedia

Mertensia ovum

Top view of Haeckelia rubra showing 8 bands with strips of combs

Mertensia ovum aka the Arctic comb jelly or Sea Nut, is a cydippid comb jelly or ctenophore first described as Beroe ovum by Johan Christian Fabricius in 1780. Unusually among ctenophores, which normally prefer warmer waters, it is found in the Arctic and adjacent polar seas, mostly in surface waters down to 50 metres (160 ft).[1][2]

In addition to being weakly bioluminescent in blues and greens, comb jellies produce a rainbow effect similar to that seen on an oil slick, and which is caused by interference of incident light on the eight rows of moving cilia or comb rows which propel the organism. The comb rows beat sequentially, rather like the action of a Mexican wave. The comb rows also function as chemical sense organs, serving the same role as insect antennae. Mertensia ovum is the major source of bioluminescence from Arctic gelatinous zooplankton.[3]

This species, like other ctenophores, has a large body cavity and is carnivorous, feeding on copepods and small crustaceans snagged by its two extremely sticky and robust tentacles (see Tentaculata). These are long and contractile with numerous lateral tentillae or side branches bearing colloblasts, each of which consists of a coiled spiral filament, structurally similar to a nematocyst, but instead of injecting a toxin, release an adhesive substance which ensnares the prey. [4] These tentacles can be retracted into a tentacle sheath. The body is on the whole light pink in colour, oval in the tentacular plane and considerably compressed in the sagittal plane. Its unconventional brain consists of a network of nerves arranged under its outer skin. [5]

A study in the Barents Sea found that it ingests prey ranging from small copepods to amphipods and krill, but that its staple diet consists of large copepod species such as Calanus finmarchicus, Calanus glacialis, Calanus hyperboreus and Metridia longa.[6]

Like garden snails, Mertensia is hermaphroditic, reproducing sexually and occasionally asexually. Eggs and sperm are ejected into the water and from the fertilised eggs ovoid larvae develop. The planktonic larvae of this species are 2–3 millimetres (0.08–0.12 in) long while adults grow up to 10 centimetres (3.9 in).[7]

The genus Mertensia commemorates the German naturalist Karl Heinrich Mertens aka Andrei Karlovich Mertens (17 May 1796 – 18 September 1830). Mertens accompanied the Russian naturalist Alexander Philipov Postels aboard the Senyavin in 1826 on a voyage to "reconnoitre and describe the coasts of Kamchatka, the land of the Chuchkis and the Koriaks (the coasts of which have not yet been described by anyone, and which are unknown except by the voyage of Captain Bering); the coasts of the Okhotsk Sea, and the Shantar Islands, which although they are known to us, have not been sufficiently described."

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