Cladonema californicum Hyman, 1947
Phylum Cnidaria / Class Hydrozoa / Order Anthomedusae / Family Cladonematidae

Most of us think of jellyfish as free-swimming planktonic travelers. A few jellies, like Cladonema, have taken an alternative lifestyle. These tiny jewels (bell only up to 2 to 3 mm diameter) possess an adhesive disc on each of the 9 marginal tentacles that enable attachment to seaweeds. While capable of swimming, most of their time is spent as couch potatoes attached to benthic substrates. At the base of each tentacle is a reddish ocellus, while farther along the length 2 or 3 branches emerge. The mouth has 6 short arms that terminate with nematocyst-laden knobs. A European species, C. radiatum, has become established in some West Coast bays and is distinguished by more than 3 branches from each of the marginal tentacles.  C. californicum inhabits quiet bays and inlets from British Columbia to California. You’re unlikely to see this inconspicuous jelly unless you take a very close look at seaweeds exposed on mud flats at low tide.

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