Tiny Alien Creature Lands on Oregon Coast
(Seaside, Oregon) – To the untrained eye, they look like odd little soap bubbles in the sand. Put them in water, and they often come alive again, and can look like those alien attackers in the video game Crysis. (All photos courtesy Seaside Aquarium and Tiffany Boothe)
Seaside Aquarium's Tiffany Boothe found quite a few of them again recently on the beaches of the north Oregon coast. The little gelatinous critters are called comb jellies – or sometimes known as sea gooseberries. They are stunning in the water – and outside of it.
“These large (3 cm) comb jellies are washing ashore in Seaside,” Boothe said earlier this week. “They may not catch your eye while stranded on the beach, but once submerged into sea water their beauty is revealed. What looks like bioluminescence is actually cilia (small hair-like structures lining the outside of the comb jelly) refracting light.”
The sea gooseberry has two tentacles, which are about three times longer than the body of the critter. These are lined with colloblasts – a specialized adhesive cell that helps snag food for the comb jelly.
They only live about four to six months.
Periodically, Boothe has been able to bring them back to life by putting them in sea water back at the Seaside Aquarium.
“But once in salt water this beautiful and graceful jelly begins to move, pulsating the small cilia that line the outside of the jelly,” Boothe said.
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