Friday 16 December 2011

Atolla Jellyfish

Image: NOAA
Just in time for the holiday season! Some kind of alternative dreamcatcher. Red with tentacles. Just what the world was calling for!

Atolla is a genus of 6 jellyfish. Or at least that's how many of them have been discovered so far. Since the ones I can discover a little something about live at depths of 500 to 5,000 metres (1,640 to 16,400 feet), there may well be more.

They are a kind of Crown Jellyfish, which means they have a deep groove around the bell that makes them look like a crown. A red crown with tentacles. Just what the world was calling for!

The most famous must surely be Atolla wyvillei, who reaches about 15 cm (6 in) in diameter. They have about 20-something tentacles, one of which is longer than the rest for reasons unknown.

The red colour helps them to disappear into the darkness of the deep sea, which is particularly effective since scarcely any red reaches the deep so most animals there can't even see it.

Do you know what really stands out in the deep sea? Blue! Blue is readily visible down there to anyone who cares to look, so if a jellyfish were to suddenly turn blue, she'd be the talk of the town!

Image: source
And this is precisely what Atolla wyvillei does when confronted with the unwanted attentions of a predator. Bioluminescence allows her to shine and shimmer in the bleakness like an ostentatiously festive house.

The predator may leave, startled by the lights or finding it a rather tasteless display. Alternatively, other predators in the vicinity may become curious at the commotion and scare off or simply consume the hapless would-be victimiser.

Beautiful bioluminescence!

The Atolla's alarm is so effective that scientists have even used it to attract denizens of the deep to their cameras!

Isn't that one of the rules of marketing? Don't give them what they want, give them what they DON'T EVEN KNOW they want! A red, light-up dreamcatcher with tentacles!


Anonymous said...

They look completely alien! Which is great because it makes our planet seem like a less boring place. Too bad they are not floating around in the air!

Joseph JG said...

Ha! It would be amazing if they were floating around the place! Imagine if thousands of them were in a tree lighting up at night... Wow!

Crunchy said...

Do they have stinging tentacles? Seems like that'd be really easy to find out. All you need is a very daring marine biologist (aren't they all?).

Joseph JG said...

I'm pretty sure the tentacles sting, it would be a note-worthy thing if they didn't and I'm sure they'd mention it.

And yes, those biologists and researcher get up to some crazy antics!

"I wonder if this will hurt... just as I suspected. Pain."