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Oregon Coast Man Makes Unusual Beach Finds
and Plays Frankenstein
|Morse took this photo of the tiny jelly, showing what
appear to be parasites inside.
(Newport, Oregon) - Like an Oregon coast version of Dr.
Frankenstein, one Newport man has made some interesting discoveries about
stuff found on the beach and even brought one specimen back to life.
Terry Morse has intense interest in all things beachy and
frequently scours the local sands for interesting things that have washed
up. October 15 saw him doing that and happening upon what appeared to
be comb jellies - a tiny jellyfish that is about the size of a marble.
But there was something different about these.
"It isn’t unusual to find large numbers of sea
gooseberry comb jelllies (Pleurobrachia bachei) washed up on Nye Beach,"
Morse said. "Notice that two of the jellies are clear throughout
- the normal condition - while the other three have something orange in
them. I’ve never seen this before. The item inside the jelly on
the left looks vaguely shrimp-like. The one on the right looks to me a
bit like a jellyfish (note the white angling down and right from the bottom
middle of the item, resembling the oral arms of a jellyfish). If you ignore
the white, though, both inclusions look very similar."
At first he thought these could be food items inside the
comb jelly. Morse later contacted Cynthia Trowbridge, a marine biologist
affiliated with Oregon State University. She tentatively identified them
as some kind of parasitic crustacean (shrimp-like animal) that eats the
jellies’ digestive organs. Morse said he’s still hoping to
find a crustacean expert who could help in the identification.
The next day, there was nothing on the beach, Morse said.
But another trip a couple days later yielded another comb jelly with what
appeared to be four parasites.
Then came Morse’s little Dr. Frankenstein moment,
proving that the beach is really full of surprises. He not only brought
the creature back to life in a tank, but discovered something new about
|A jellyfish is brought back to life after being found
on a beach - parasites and all.
“I took the ‘comb jelly’ home and put
it in a container filled with sea water, and it immediately began the
pulsating swimming movements typical of a jellyfish, not the ciliary beating
of a comb jelly.”
Morse said he noticed flowing tentacles and dark eyespots
that are typical of a penicillate jelly, Polyorchis penicillatus. He also
saw from his earlier photos that none had the rows of hairs typical of
comb jellies, telling him these were something else.
“All appear to be very small penicillate jellies,
or possibly some similar species,” Morse said. “They are much
smaller than the penicillate jellies I am used to seeing on Nye Beach.
Technically, these are hydromedusae, not true jellyfish, which means that
they are more closely related to the by-the-wind sailors (sail jellies)
that frequently wash up on west coast beaches than they are to the moon
and sea nettle jellies that also strand here.”
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