This is a Marine Detective case for those of you who appreciate the mini-mysteries as much as the whale wonders.
Gillian Butler and Erin Paul of Pacific Northwest Expeditions discovered this remarkable invertebrate in August, off their kayak base camp in Johnstone Strait, north-eastern Vancouver Island.
I was thrilled to get the “What’s this?” email from them as this is an organism I know is in our ocean but that I have never been able to find!
It is a jellyfish that is only 3 cm wide and is usually attached to kelp . . . by it’s stalk!
Yes, it is a stalked jellyfish (stauromedusae) that is known by the common name the “oval-anchored stalked jelly” (Haliclystus spp).
Stalked jellies never become free-swimming, bell-shaped “medusa” like most jellyfish species. Their stalk is sticky allowing them to attach to eel grass, seaweed or rocks in the shallows. They have 8 “arms” that look like they have pom-poms at their ends. These clusters of 30-100 tentacles have stinging cells so that the stalked jelly can catch small crustaceans and bring this food to their mouth (positioned at the centre of the 8 arms).
Only about 50 species of stalked jelly had been discovered worldwide but, recently, new extremely deep-dwelling species been discovered around hydrothermal vents.
They are remarkably mobile which you will see in the Lester B. Pearson College video at the link below. If the stalk becomes detached, the animal can hold on with its tentacles till it reattaches its stalk. The student video will also allow you to see the base of the stalk and how the arms can close up.
Thank you Gillian and Erin!