They have transparent, jelly-like bodies with bright, iridescent bands of color. The bands are made up of tiny hairs called combs, which divide the body into eight symmetrical areas. These "combs" help the animal swim by beating rhythmically and propelling it forward. Unlike true jellyfish who use their stinging cells to stun and capture prey, comb jellies draw in prey (mostly planktonic organisms) by pumping water through their body cavity.
So what does this mean to the common beachgoer? Comb Jellies are HARMLESS!! Now that you know they can't harm you, feel free to examine them up close. Keep in mind though, that they do easily break apart when taken out of the water. One of the best ways to examine them up close is to put them in a clear container so that you can view them whole. This also allows you to see the beautiful irridescent colors associated with their beating combs. Many species of comb jellies are also biolunenescent, which means they can produce their own light. They often emit a soft glowing color which can easily be seen at night time!
|comb jellies are commonly found along Florida's coastal and marine waters. Pick one up!|
Want to learn more?
|Image credit: NOAA|
Rhode Island Sea Grant Fact Sheet on Jellyfish
Chesapeake Bay Field Guide
NOAA Ocean Explorers- "Surprises from Comb Jellies in the Arctic"
University of Californial Museum of Palentology-Introduction to Ctenophora