Wednesday 4 May 2011

Blue Button

Image via Wikipedia
Here we see yet another weird, colonial Cnidarian to go along with the Portuguese Man o' War, but this one is much more closely related to the By-the-Wind Sailor. It's actually very similar to the Sailor, the main difference being that it lacks the little sail. It still has the float though, and it's still hard, full of gas and essential in keeping the Blue Button up at the water's surface as it drifts around the warmer parts of the world's oceans. It's also about 1 inch across.

Beneath the float is the beautiful bright blue hydroid colony. They look quite a lot like jellyfish tentacles but you have to remember that the round float isn't a body, it's more like a life ring. If I was drifting along holding onto a life ring for dear life, I wouldn't want people to focus their attention on the life ring because the guy hanging on could probably grow back or something! It would be all the worse if I wasn't the only one hanging on. In all honesty though, this is a Cnidarian composed of loads of tiny polyps, I have no idea what could grow back and what couldn't!

In any case, the Blue Button still has those infamous stinging cells, also known both as nematocysts and cnidocytes. They're pretty much harmless to humans, used instead to kill and capture tiny bits of food such as plankton, larval fish or miniscule eggs. This is in fact done by some of those tentacles, before they feed the hungry mouth beneath the float. Other tentacles then go about digestion, while others will eventually begin the very important task of reproduction.

Not a particularly well known creature, but I can't help but feel that's it's a wondrously beautiful one.


TexWisGirl said...

beautiful yes. gorgeous color and lace.

Joseph JG said...

Yeh, strange to think of such lovely little things floating about in the sea.

Meg said...

That thing is gorgeous! It'd make beautiful artwork

Joseph JG said...

Oh, it's wonderful! There should be pictures of it all over the place, bathroom tiles even.