No backbone - Marine invertebrates

by B. N. Sullivan
Nope, that's not a discarded plastic shopping bag that Jerry is looking at in the photo. It's a comb jelly (Phylum: Ctenophora), one of the many kinds of marine invertebrates we've come to know. ['invertebrate' = no backbone]

Most comb jellies are transparent, or at least translucent like the one in the photo, and appear to have an iridescent sheen. Some have fine tentacles, which they use to grab prey. Others capture prey by enveloping them. This one probably fits the latter category. We're not certain of the species name for this specimen, but our best guess is that it belongs to the genus Beroe.

Comb jellies tend to be pelagic -- that is, they live in the open ocean rather than in reef areas. Once in awhile they drift in closer to shore.

This comb jelly was photographed off the coast of Puako, Hawaii at a depth of about 85 feet (26 meters) near a rocky outcropping known as Snapper Point. Snapper Point is one of our very favorite local dive sites. As this photo demonstrates, it's one of the places in our home waters where we're most likely to encounter The Right Blue.


  1. How cool! Are they dangerous those jelly fish?

  2. @ Manictastic - This particular one is not dangerous. It has no stinging cells or tentacles. Other jellies -- the ( Phylum Cnidaria ) do have stinging cells -- and the sting is really painful. (Speaking from experience, unfortunately.)

    @ happily anonymous - Thank you. It helps to have clear water, an interesting subject, and a human model wearing a photogenic dive suit who has mastered buoyancy control so he can hold still for the shot!

  3. Incredible. Fantastic. What opportunity!


We welcome your comments and invite your questions. Dialogue is a good thing!

Bobbie & Jerry