Voragonema (Benthocodon) pedunculata (Bigelow, 1913), top; V. hyalinus, bottom
Phylum Cnidaria / Class Hydrozoa / Order Trachymedusae / Family Rhopalonematidae

You’re unlikely to encounter this little beauty while boating or diving. Voragonema 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, Voragonema 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 V. pedunculata.

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