Leidy’s Comb Jelly
The comb jelly looks different from other jellies because it’s not made up of a bell and tentacles. Instead, it is a translucent walnut-shaped body with wart-like bumps. For this reason, it’s sometimes called a sea walnut.
Comb jellies are translucent but refract light, appearing to have rainbow colors running down their bodies on the track of internal moving cilia. They can also make their own light (bioluminescence), flashing when disturbed.
Zooplankton, especially oyster eggs and larvae
Maximum size is about 5 inches long
Atlantic coastal waters from Cape Cod, Mass., to the Carolinas; invasive to the Black Sea
In the past, jelly populations were kept in check by predators like sea turtles and jelly-eating fish. Due to the reduction of their predators, jelly populations are growing at alarming rates.
Sea turtles and other jelly-eating animals, such as tuna, sunfish, butterfish, and spiny dogfish, keep the jelly populations in balance. All seven species of sea turtles include them in their diets. The largest sea turtle species, the leatherback, depends on jellies for food. Because jellies are more than 90% water and an adult leatherback can weigh more than 2,000 pounds, one turtle can consume a lot of jellies. Additionally, Leidy’s comb jellies are the favored food item for the pink comb jelly (Beroe ovata), also native to Atlantic coastal waters.
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