Holding a Sea Gooseberry, Pleurobrachia pileus (Muller), up to the light to see the internal organs. Through the transparent jelly you can see the retracted tentacles. The rows of “combs” are visible on the outer surface running from the oral (mouth) to the aboral surface. Quite a few of these creatures wash up with the incoming tide at Rhossili Bay, Gower. In the background of the picture you can just see the Worms Head.
The Sea Gooseberry, Pleurobranchia pileus Muller, is a seashore creature belonging to the group known as Ctenophores. The characteristics are:
- Transparent, gelatinous, planktonic species
- Solid, ovoid, gooseberry-shaped body
- 17-20mm high
- Swims using eight rows of ciliary plates or comb rows
- Comb rows extend from aboral surface almost to the mouth
- Each comb has transverse rows of hair-like but mobile cilia fused onto a small plate
- Two long retractile tentacles extend 15 to 20 times the body length
- Tentacles are sticky with fine filaments on one side
- Sea-gooseberries are carnivores that capture plankton with their sticky tentacles
- Appear to shimmer as they swim and are phosphorescent at night
- Found in all British coastal waters – often in swarms
- Present from March to November but most abundant in summer
Information retrieved from:
Pocket Nature Seashore, Chris Gibson, Dorling Kindersley, 2008, ISBN 978 1 4053 2862 3, page 213.
Handbook of the Marine Fauna of North-West Europe, Edited by P. J. Hayward and J. S. Ryland, Oxford University Press, 1995, ISBN 0 19 854055 8 (Pbk), page 134.
MarLIN The Marine Life Information Network for Britain and Ireland run by the Marine Biological Association UK. http://www.marlin.ac.uk/speciesinformation.php?speciesID=4140
COPYRIGHT JESSICA WINDER 2011
All Rights Reserved
5 Replies to “Sea Gooseberries at Rhossili”
This last picture, of the Sea Gooseberry acting as a lens and concentrating the sun’s light, is my favorite
Thank you, Galen. I think Sea Gooseberries are like small jewels – the way they reflect and refract the light. Do you get these animals on the Point Reyes Seashore?
We have many types of jellyfish that wash ashore and that I see while kayaking, but I have never seen one that was so intricately textured on its outside, especially for its size. The gooseberry truly appears much more jewel like than what I am used to. Beautiful find. Hopefully I will see some in person one day
The small size would probably make these creatures difficult to spot in the water while kayaking – although they are supposed to be phosphorescent at night if you were ever on the water after sunset. I have only spotted them washed ashore when the sun has glinted on them; they would be very easy to overlook.
Hey Galen, I’ve been finding our version of the sea gooseberry on the CA beaches lately: http://natureid.blogspot.com/2013/05/sea-gooseberry-052813-asilomar-beach.html Unfortunately, ours are not bioluminescent. And, thanks, Jessica, for helping me get in the ballpark for what I had.