Undescribed Mertensiid 
Phylum Ctenophora / Order Cydippida / Mertensiidae

This uncommonly seen comb jelly, in the family Mertensiidae, is currently undescribed and has not yet been assigned a scientific name. It possesses a pair of feeding tentacles like all cydippid ctenophores, and is easily distinguished from others like the sea gooseberry (Pleurobrachia) by the dark maroon color of the tentacles and tentacle bulbs (tentacles retracted into sheaths in the photo). The transparent body is elongate and relatively small (length up to 2 cm). It is somewhat more delicate than Pleurobrachia and is usually severely damaged after collection with a plankton net. Tentacles have large numbers of fine side branches and exit the body from a long thin opening on each side of the body. The mouth opening is relatively wide. This comb jelly normally drifts motionless with the mouth end up and tentacles extended to form a net. Copepods and other crustaceans are standard fare. It is occasionally seen in relatively large numbers in surface waters of central and southern California and the San Juan Islands of Washington. In British Columbia fjords it tends to inhabit deeper waters, ranging from 100 to 600 meters.

All images in the JelliesZone © David Wrobel and may not be copied or used in any form without permission.

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