Liriope tetraphylla (Chamisso & Eysenhardt, 1821)
Phylum Cnidaria / Class Hydrozoa / Order Trachymedusae / Family Geryoniidae

This tiny gelatinous jewel is a master of the fine art of transparency. Even when abundant near the surface, it’s difficult to know that they’re even there. If you do see them, identification of this trachymedusa is fairly easy. The transparent, colorless bell may be up to 3 cm diameter but is usually less. A long conical peduncle, to which is attached the stomach, extends from beneath the bell. Four radial canals continue along the length of the peduncle, and 4 flat gonads lie on the canals in the bell area. A total of 8 tentacles (4 long alternating with 4 short ones) are attached to the bell margin. Apparently the sting of the nematocysts can be mildly irritating, particularly if large numbers of individuals are involved.

Like other trachymedusae, this species lacks an attached polyp. Gonads release eggs or sperm into the water and the fertilized eggs develop into planulae. These form free-swimming actinula larvae, which develop directly into medusae. In nearshore waters of central and southern California, Liriope can occur in massive surface aggregations during periods of warmer oceanic water intrusion. This typically happens during fall months in Monterey Bay. This widespread species occurs worldwide from about 40 degrees N to 40 degrees S latitude, and ranges into northern California on the West Coast. It is a fairly common jelly in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez.

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

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