Most, but not all!
|Image: Elisabeth Calvert|
Usually copepods and shrimp make for good eating but... they can also catch other things. And eat them. Even though they're composed almost entirely of stuff they don't want to eat.
Video: Our Oceans
Dryodora gladiformis (?) eating and not eating
Enter the Larvacean. These tiny creatures look just like tadpoles and are related to sea squirts, who also look just like tadpoles, but only when they're young larvae. Sea squirts grow up into weird jug things attached to the sea floor, Larvaceans on the other hand always look like tadpoles.
Sounds like good eating! But there's a great, big, somewhat snotty problem. Larvaceans feed by building a huge structure out of mucus called a "house". The Larvacean lives inside it, carrying it along as it swims and using it to filter out plankton.
To get at the Larvacean, a hungry Comb Jelly has to eat the entire house along with its resident! And its no gingerbread house, either. It's mucus. And even Comb Jellies think that's a bit nasty. So the Comb Jelly opens wide (VERY wide! Because it's basically a gelatinous bag, remember?) and regurgitates the house whilst keeping hold of the Larvacean.
It makes me wonder what kind of strange, internal gymnastics the Comb Jelly might have done to achieve such a trick. Or did the Larvacean just wriggle out and the Comb Jelly was all "welcome to your new house. Sorry for the lack of amenities but not to worry, you shan't be staying long. Bwaaahahahahaaaa!"
I don't know if Comb Jellies do those kind of sinister quips but it's good to see that if you can't deal with the blubber yourself, indigestion will do it for you.
Big thanks to Will for bringing this most impressive gob to my attention!