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Monday, August 24, 2015

Sunny Side Up

Yesterday afternoon, while looking offshore from Bodega Head, I noticed a few light-colored animals near the surface.  At first I thought they were sunfish, but I couldn't see the typical fins.  I continued to watch, and eventually realized they were large jellyfish.  

Here's an example, with a Brandt's Cormorant for scale:



Later I saw a few of these jellies close to shore:


I like the picture above because you can tell how this jelly got its common name.  This is an Egg-yolk Jelly (Phacellophora camtschatica).  

Egg-yolk Jellies are large, with bell diameters up to 60 cm (24 inches) across.  The yellow color in the middle of the clear bell is gonadal tissue.

Harder to see are the many dozens of thin white tentacles hanging from the perimeter of the bell (look for a hint of them below):


Egg-yolk Jellies can extend their tentacles 3-6 meters (10-20 feet), creating a net to capture other jellies (which they eat).

The genus, Phacellophora, means "bearing bundles," although I'm not sure if that refers to the tentacles or the oral arms.  The oral arms are visible from below (see next picture) note the distinctive folded or convoluted texture.


Egg-yolk Jellies are relatively easy to identify, but I don't see them washing up on beaches as often as Sea Nettles or Moon Jellies.

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