Wowing Little Jellyfish Wind Up on N. Oregon Beaches
(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – Wandering north Oregon coast is part of her job. Tiffany Boothe, an education specialist at the Seaside Aquarium, makes some interesting finds that way. (All photos by Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium)
A recent foray onto the sands around Seaside and Cannon Beach provided just such a discovery: a whole bunch of comb jellies. These are a small kind of jellyfish that don't resemble living creatures to the untrained eye. They look more like a bubble sitting on the beach – or more precisely a gelatinous one.
They are called comb jellies or sea gooseberries at times. You can take your pick. Either way, it's always a fascinating find, and Boothe's plethora of photographs show the beauty of these things – in the water and out.
“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.
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.
“The body of a Sea Gooseberry is virtually transparent and the many cilia refract the light, producing rainbow-like colors that can give the false appearance of bioluminescence,” Boothe said.
Wandering the north coast beaches, Boothe also found a particularly stunning example of a jellyfish called a Red-Eyed Medusa. (Seen above)
Otherwise known as Polyorchis pencillatus, the medusa is a wild-looking bit of ethereal, floating white mass that likes to hide in shallow bays with eel grass. There are red spots at the end of each tentacle – but they are not eyes. Not per se, anyway. They do function as a means to show whether light is being detected. This helps it stay upright or to look towards light where it might find food.
Fall storms and higher wave action make this time of year great for beachcombing, so from here until mid summer's calm conditions is a really good time to check out the beaches for odd stuff and funky creatures.
These creatures do indeed end up on all parts of the Oregon coast. Oregon Coast Beach Connection has documented them near Florence, Yachats, Newport, Depoe Bay, Lincoln City, Oceanside and many other beaches in between.
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