Atolla vanhoeffeni Russell, 1957, top; Atolla wyvillei Haeckel, 1880, bottom Phylum Cnidaria / Class Scyphozoa / Order Coronatae / Family Atollidae

It’s unfortunate that in Monterey Bay and other California locations, incredibly beautiful coronate jellies like Atolla live exclusively in deep-water habitats. You won’t see these species at the surface – only scientists with midwater trawls or remotely operated vehicles have the opportunity to see these jewels. Typical of the coronate medusae, Atolla possesses a groove (the annular furrow) in the bell that provides some flexibility to the thick umbrella. A. vanhoeffeni  may have a bell diameter up to 5 cm, but usually not more than 3 cm.  Twenty relatively short, somewhat stiff tentacles trail behind as the jelly swims (unlike other coronates with more rigid tentacles). They alternate with 20 rhopalia around the bell margin, which has 40 lappets. A single long tentacle, with unknown function, typically trails far behind the jelly. The 8 light-colored gonads are large and obvious, surrounding the base of the stomach. Mature eggs are large (about 1 mm diameter), indicating that development may be direct into a medusa. Deep red or blackish-purple pigmentation makes the stomach opaque to light produced by ingested bioluminescent zooplankton prey. This species is an abundant resident of midwater habitats throughout the oceans, at depths of 500 to 1000 meters. Another species, Atolla wyvillei, also inhabits this range, but extends to depths of at least 5000 meters. It is distinguished by a larger size (up to 15 cm), 8 oval-shaped gonads in pairs, more tentacles (usually 22, but ranging from 20 to 36), and more uniform red coloration of the bell (although some individuals may lack this pigmentation.)


FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestLinkedInGoogle BookmarksStumbleUponRedditShare

Comments are closed