Although they looked somewhat similar to the nectophore (swimming bell) of a siphonophore that we found last year (see post about Hippopodius on 16 April 2015), they were also quite different in that they had prominent points (especially out to the sides) and abundant little "spines," making them look very spiky.
For scale, here's a photo with Eric's finger. This nectophore was ~15 mm across.
To fully appreciate the gelatinous spines, here's a view under the microscope:
Meet Vogtia spinosa! This is the first time we've found this species washed up on the beach. Usually they live offshore and at depth (often 300-500 meters below the surface).
Unfortunately, I've had trouble finding pictures or diagrams of the entire animal. I've read that Vogtia is arranged similarly to Hippopodius, so check out the diagram on my previous post to start visualizing what Vogtia might look like. To clarify, what we found on the beach is a single nectophore — when the animal is whole, there might be up to 16 nectophores positioned next to each other along a central stem.
I can't resist showing one more picture. Below is the Vogtia nectophore on Eric's thumb. For some reason, it's shape reminded me of Yoda, so before I identified this siphonophore to species, I casually called it the "Spiky Yoda" nectophore. What do you think? Do you see Yoda, too? ;)