|At least four little creatures are in this picture|
A little ways on, there were more, and then a few of these larger creatures:
My Mac's Field Guide to Northeast Coastal Invertebrates identified the larger creatures as Northern Comb Jellies and the superball-sized ones as Sea Gooseberries. Some more research at home would provide some interesting tidbits.
Both Northern Comb Jellies and Sea Gooseberries are Ctenophora. (Americans get to use CB language to pronounce Ctenophora, "10-o 4-a little rainbow buddy," but everyone else has to append a "ka" on the front.) Ctenophora are a separate phylum from jellyfish, (which are cnidarians). Both ctenophora and cnidarians are simple brainless creatures. Both are a mass of jelly with cell layers outside and lining the body cavity. In the ctenophora those layers are two cells thick (versus one for the jellyfish.)
|An underwater shot|
|This is blurry but is shows a few flashes of green and blue|
These little creatures look harmless, but Ctenophora are voracious carnivores; consuming zooplankton, fish eggs and pretty much anything else they can stuff inside themselves. They can eat ten times their body weight every day.
One species of ctenophora, the sea walnut or Mnemiopsis, is an invasive species in the Black Sea, destroying the fishing industry there.
Blooms of ctenophora, like jellyfish blooms, can be a sign of an ecosystem out of whack, or they might just indicate favorable conditions for breeding. Ctenophora reproduce year 'round.
There are about 150 known species of ctenophora, found from arctic to tropic waters. Many are bioluminescent.
So, those were our new species sighting of the day! If you'd like to learn more, check out:
Wikipedia: Centaphora http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ctenophora
Centophores - some notes from an expert - http://faculty.washington.edu/cemills/Ctenophores.html
Smithsonian Jelly Fish and Comb Jellies - http://ocean.si.edu/jellyfish-and-comb-jellies
|Mark is moving on...|