Hormiphora californensis (Torrey, 1904)
Phylum Ctenophora / Order Cydippida / Family Pleurobrachiidae
Cydippid comb jelly, Hormiphora californensis, Monterey Bay, Pacific Ocean

Cydippid comb jellies are distinguished by the pair of long, extensible tentacles, each arising from sheaths on the side of the body opposite the mouth. As with other species in this order, Hormiphora drifts with tentacles extended. Numerous sticky side branches line the length of the tentacles and are used to capture copepods, euphausids and other crustacean and zooplankton prey. A prey-laden tentacle contracts toward the body, which spins to bring the food near the mouth for ingestion. Hormiphora has a transparent body which is difficult to see in the water. It resembles the sea gooseberry, Pleurobrachia bachei, but differs in larger body size (up to 3 cm in length), oblong shape, and relatively longer tentacle bulbs and sheaths (which parallel the pharynx, rather than angling away). As with Pleurobrachia, and unlike most ctenophores, Hormiphora is not bioluminescent. H. californensis has a limited known range in southern California. A similar deep-water undescribed Hormiphora species is sometimes found in surface waters of Monterey Bay and the San Juan Islands. It has an ovate body that is circular in cross section and narrow at the mouth.


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