(Linnaeus, 1758) : Box Jelly|
Phylum Cnidaria / Class Cubozoa / Family Carybdeidae
Our West Coast waters are not well endowed with box jellies. The one species that does enter California waters is Carybdea marsupialis (pictured here). Although primarily a warm-water species, it visits nearshore habitats off Santa Barbara and other southern California areas from August through November. This species may have a bell of up to 4 cm high, with numerous nematocyst containing nodules on the outer part. The bell also usually is marked by light tan specks. Four distinctive spade-like structures (the pedalia) are aligned with the 4 tentacles and the septa that separate the gastric pouches. Each tentacle is capable of extending more than 10 times the height of the bell. Carybdea tends to swim most of the time while seeking crustaceans and small fishes. When visiting southern California waters, this box jelly favors shallow sandy habitats inshore of the kelp beds. Fortunately for bathers in the area, this species lacks a potent stinging punch. In addition to southern California, Carybdea marsupialis ranges farther south into Mexico, and also is known from the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.
All photographs © David Wrobel and may not be used or copied without permission!