You're unlikely to encounter this little beauty while boating or
diving. Benthocodon pedunculata
is found in deep water habitats like Monterey Canyon and San
Clemente Basin on the West Coast. A strong swimmer, it is usually associated with
the bottom, where it feeds on crustaceans and foraminiferans. Numerous fine
red tentacles (1000 to 2000) line the margin of the bell, which may be up to 4
cm diameter but is usually smaller. Also near the margin are furrows that
extend toward the apex of the bell. Gonads run along the length of each of
the 8 radial canals and extend beyond at the midpoint, where they are
suspended. Sheets of tissue (mesenteries) connect the gonads to the
manubrium. The brilliant red-brown coloration of the
subumbrella and manubrium shows through the transparent exumbrella. The opaque red
coloration of many deep-water jellies apparently aids in masking the bioluminescent
flashing of consumed prey.
Another related species, Benthocodon hyalinus, may
also be collected from similar deep-water habitats on the West Coast. It
possesses a deep red-colored manubrium but has a relatively transparent
subumbrella rather than the distinctive coloration of B. pedunculata.
All photographs © David
Wrobel and may not be used or copied without permission!
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