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Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

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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Description

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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Comprehensive Description

Description

 Pleurobrachia pileus is a small, oval to spherical comb jelly, up to 1-2.5 cm high with two long fishing tentacles. The fishing tentacles are up to 15-20 times the length of the body (up to 50 cm long), bear lateral filaments, and can be completely retracted into the body. It swims with eight longitudinal combs, arranged in four paired rows, that give the comb jellies (ctenophores) their characteristic shimmering appearance. These combs consist of plates of transverse rows of hairs that beat in waves downwards, which produces the shimmering effect. These plates are phosphorescent at night. The gut may bear some colour. Newly hatched specimens are pear-shaped and bear only short rows of combs.Pleurobrachia pileus is a carnivore, preying on zooplankton, especially copepods. In British waters it is most abundant in summer and late autumn (Fish & Fish, 1996).
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Distribution

Maine to Florida and Texas
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Source: World Register of Marine Species

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cosmopolitan
  • UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms
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Widely distributed species. In the Arctic found in the Barents and Kara Seas.

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Range

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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Physical Description

Morphology

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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Diagnostic Description

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

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Ecology

Habitat

upper epipelagic and glacial
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Depth range based on 563 specimens in 2 taxa.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 53 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 223.5
  Temperature range (°C): -1.210 - 18.189
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.117 - 17.366
  Salinity (PPS): 17.095 - 35.325
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.798 - 9.281
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.288 - 1.300
  Silicate (umol/l): 2.262 - 15.790

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 223.5

Temperature range (°C): -1.210 - 18.189

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.117 - 17.366

Salinity (PPS): 17.095 - 35.325

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.798 - 9.281

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.288 - 1.300

Silicate (umol/l): 2.262 - 15.790
 
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 Pelagic in coastal waters but may sometimes become trapped in intertidal pools.
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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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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Diet

predaceous on fish fry, copepods, and other small organisms of zooplankton
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Status

Not threatened (2).
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Threats

This species is not threatened.
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Management

Conservation

Conservation action is not required for this common species.
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