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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Combs and mullets?

On 19 September 2012, we were walking through Woods Hole, MA, and noticed some interesting animals in the water below.

The first was a pretty ctenophore or comb jelly, probably a species of Mnemiopsis (sometimes called a sea walnut).  The individual below was ~4 cm long.  Instead of pulsing like jellyfish, ctenophores use rows of "combs" to move through the water.  The comb rows look a bit like stitches.

The ctenophores were mostly transparent, but they had a slight pinkish hue, which was helpful when trying to locate them in the water.  

We were traveling, but had an empty mason jar in the car (thanks to some salsa!), so used the jar to scoop up one ctenophore for a closer view.  Here are a few photos for scale.

Although this ctenophore is not found in the Pacific Ocean, several other species can be seen near Bodega Head.  I posted about one called a sea gooseberry in February.

While scanning for ctenophores, a small school of fish swam into view.  The fish themselves were ~8 inches long.

Many of the fish had flashing blue tails with a dark black line along the posterior edge (see next photo).

A few of the fish appeared to have narrower snouts, more golden coloration on the back, and black spots along the sides (see next image).  I'm not sure if this variant was a different species, or a different stage of the same species?

We're wondering if the dominant fish is a species of mullet, but we're really not sure, so we're looking for input.  We'd be grateful for any assistance!

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