Identification

Some of the more conspicuous jellyfishes are easily identifiable, even at a glance:

• The cubozoan box jellyfish, Chironex fleckeri (Fig. 18.5D), is large, more or less transparent, and has up to 15 fettuccini-like tentacles hanging off each corner; a close relative, Chiropsella bronzie (Fig. 18.5C), has spaghetti-like tentacles and rarely more than seven or nine per corner.

• Irukandjis (Cubozoa, Fig. 18.5A, B) are also transparent, and may be as small as 1 cm or as large as 18 cm in height, but always have box-shaped bodies with only four tentacles, one extending from each corner.

• Scyphozoan blubber jellyfishes, Order Rhizostomeae, Catostylus (Fig. 18.3A), Mastigias, Netrostoma (Fig. 18.3D), and so on, are large and heavy, and often brightly coloured; they have eight frond-like structures hanging down from the centre, and never have tentacles hanging from the bell margin.

• Scyphozoan hair jellies, Cyanea spp. (Fig. 18.3C), have a large flat bell, with a mop of hundreds of fine tentacles clustered underneath.

• The scyphozoan mauve stinger, Pelagia (Fig. 18.3B), has a small dome-shaped pink-purple body, with eight fine marginal tentacles and four ribbon-like pleated oral arms extending from the centre of the underside of the body.

• Hydromedusae (Class Hydrozoa) have small transparent bodies, typically with numerous tentacles around the margin; often they are not seen but are felt as 'sea lice'. Members of the Order Leptomedusae (Fig. 18.1C) have flat bodies with gonads on the radial canals, hollow marginal tentacles and external statocysts; Order Anthomedusae (Fig. 18.1A) have tall bodies with gonads on the stomach, and with hollow or solid marginal tentacles and no statocysts; Order Narcomedusae have stiff tentacles emerging from the upper surface of the bell, and with the gonads in pouches; Order Trachymedusae have deep bodies with gonads on the radial canals, and with solid marginal tentacles and free statocysts; and Order Limnomedusae (Fig. 18.1D) have flat bodies with gonads on the radial canals or stomach, and have hollow tentacles and enclosed statocysts.

• Blue bottles (Subclass Siphonophora), Physalia spp. (Fig. 18.1B), have a floating bubble structure atop a cluster of blue and clear tentacles and filaments, with one or more bright blue main fishing tentacles trailing out to a distance of about a metre.

• Ctenophores all have eight bands of cilia along the body. Pleurobrachia-type comb jellies (Order

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