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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Giant Bell Jelly

Strong northwest winds may have pushed more jellies onto local beaches earlier this week.

After a bird survey on Salmon Creek Beach, I encountered at least a dozen of these large hydromedusae.  From top to bottom the outer bell measured ~8 cm (3 inches) long.  This is a Giant Bell Jelly, or Scrippsia pacifica.

Here are two closer views — the first out of water, the second submerged in a shallow pool.  Look for the brown, zigzag lines running vertically from the top of the inner bell to the bottom margin.

In the next photo, you can also see the thin, tubular gonads attached to a large, transparent peduncle in the middle of the inner bell.

Unfortunately, these specimens had been washed around by the waves and they're missing the tentacles that would be hanging from the bell margin.

From the Light & Smith Manual (2007):

"These magnificent medusae are usually born in mid-winter, reaching adulthood in the summer months, when they are occasionally seen in large numbers in central California bays, at the surface or washed up on ocean beaches.  They have been seen offshore on the bottom from about 20 m in La Jolla (by scuba divers) to as deep as 367 m in Monterey Bay (by ROV); their range is from northern California to Baja California."

Here's a photo of the sea conditions from Salmon Creek Beach on 6 August 2012, with waves washing up over a berm.


Anonymous said...

have there been any Velellas ????c

Jackie Sones said...

By-the-wind-sailors (Velella velella) are more likely to appear in the spring and early summer months. We haven't seen many in recent years, but will keep our eyes open in 2013. Watch for a post about them in the future!