|This image by Nick Hobgood via Wikipedia|
What are benthic ctenophores (aka benthic comb jellies)? I've explained them before in one of my earlier posts (here), but simply put, they are an unusual group of comb jellies, which you might be more familiar with as purely pelagic or swimming animals, such as this "sea gooseberry"
Here's a nice pic of a species which lives on coral (image by Ria Tan and my friends over at Wild Singapore). You can see the tentacles doing the same thing..but oriented "upwards" away from the bottom.. and into the current.
In the last few years with the proliferation of video and underwater cameras, we've been seeing more and more of them. And so, learning more and MORE about them!!
Anna and Ned over at Blennywatcher.com for example were very lucky in that they were able to capture one such animal FEEDING for the first time ever!! (Here)
One of the main reasons, I got so interested in benthic ctenophores was that they live primarily on a starfish, Echinaster luzonicus, a 6-7 rayed species frequently encountered throughout the Indo-Pacific.
The ctenophore species is presumably Coeloplana astricola (no specimens examined, so hence my caution). As you can see in the picture above.. the feeding tentacles project up into the water to feed as they do in other species..
Based on this cool video made by blennywatcher.com, there appear to be different species of benthic ctenophores present on each individual host. But usually not more than one species per host...
This one is called Echinaster callosus. A weird but colorful starfish with big puffy protrusions on its body surface...
— SeaKeys (@SeaKeysSA) August 22, 2014
Benthic ctenophore (comb jelly) near Aliwal shoal KZN seen with ROV. pic.twitter.com/jBgKuTMjhL— ACEP (@ACEP_ZA) June 2, 2014
Wow! RT @SteinhartBart: Benthic ctenophore I collected @300' has its feeding tentacles out #CASfieldnotes pic.twitter.com/RqZvMQ4d0e— MBARI (@MBARI_News) May 12, 2015
weird and wonderful animal: Lyrocteis- a benthic #ctenophore that I collected at 85m on recent @calacademy expedition pic.twitter.com/1MnD3KXbLV— Bart Shepherd (@SteinhartBart) May 1, 2015