Tag Archives: Scyphozoa

Stuck on Comb Jellies

May 25, 2019

Today was a big day for Scyphozoa and Ctenophores, otherwise known as true jellyfish and comb jellies respectively. When we unloaded at one of our experiment locations, we had to quickly get back into the boat when we realized Moon Jellies (Aurelia aurita) were everywhere (they can deliver a painful sting), but that doesn’t mean I didn’t take a picture first.

There were also a lot of comb jellies (unknown species). These jellies look similar to jellyfish but are actually from a completely different phylum and use sticky cells called colloblasts to catch prey rather than stinging cells like jellyfish. This is why Amanda was able to safely hold one in her hand.

Eventually, our marine safety officer Herbie found a reef that wasn’t infested with jellyfish. While he was checking the area, he said he saw lots of squid and lionfish. I didn’t end up finding any squid myself, but I did get to watch Herbie spear one of the lionfish – they’re invasive to the Caribbean and eat a lot of important herbivorous fish populations.

Later, we went to the forereef, which was much deeper than the patch reefs inside the atoll. I got to see some living elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata), a nurse shark, several southern sting rays, and a very linear group of small squid.

I Am Utterly Exhausted

May 22, 2019

Today was a doozy. We had a three hour boat ride to Glover’s Reef this morning. It was a small motor boat speeding across three hours worth of ocean, so it was more like a three hour rollercoaster.

Once we made it to Glover’s, we immediately had a tour of the island, then lunch, and then our first snorkel. We couldn’t stay out for long because the current was strong, but Liz and I made it out to the patch reef, which was beautiful. I’m so excited to go out there again.

Closer to shore, we spotted many upside-down jellyfish (Cassiopeia xamachana) – a scyphozoan from my taxon ID card!!! These jellyfish are particularly interesting because they often rest on the ocean floor upside down with their tentacles in the air such that they look like harmless plants.

We went out again later to a different area of the reef. This area was much more shallow, which made it harder to navigate. This wasn’t ideal because there were many fire coral. I noticed both branching fire coral (Millipore alcicornis) and blade fire coral (Millipore complanate). These hydrozoans are actually not coral at all and can cause a nasty sting with their nematocysts.