Fast Facts: Comb Jellies

  • Are an important food item for many fishes;
  • Vaguely resemble jellyfish, however, they do not sting;
  • Are semi-transparent, gelatinous, barrel-shaped marine animals that move through the water by contracting bands of muscles which ring the body. These contractions draw water in the front of the test (body) and out the rear;
  • Many are bioluminescent and glow iridescently, especially along the eight combs. I’ve seen this whilst scuba diving at night and it’s awesome;
  • The defining feature is the colloblast. Colloblasts are specialised cells concentrated on the tentacles that shoot out a sticky chemical to trap food. Comb jellies use their tentacles to sweep up small planktonic organisms in the water column;
  • Are related to all the animals with backbones;
  • Are often ovoid or flattened;
  • Move through the water by beating tiny hairs called cilia which run in eight comb-like plates along the length of the animal; and
  • Usually have two elongate, sticky tentacles which are used to capture crustaceans and fishes for food.

References: australian.museum, personal experience and taxonomyaustralia.org.au.

Published by Karina Teuma

karinateuma.com Karina Teuma is a Passionate Marine Biology Enthusiast, Environmentalist, Snorkeller, Freediver, Scuba Diver and more.

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