Raising the 'Beautiful Sea Goddess'
Unearthly, transparent and beautiful—and exceedingly delicate. The spotted comb jelly is so fragile, just waving your hand through the water could destroy it.
For the first time anywhere, our intrepid jelly team has cultured this shimmering creature, described as "barely organized water" due to its fragility, and put it on exhibit. It's the latest advance in comb jelly science and another notable innovation from the Aquarium's jelly team.
The species, known scientifically as Leucothea pulchra (Latin for "beautiful sea goddess"), can grow from 12 to 18 inches long, says Senior Aquarist Wyatt Patry, who led the culturing effort. They're ctenophores, and not true jellyfish, he notes.
Marine scientists have long been fascinated not only with the spotted comb jelly's otherworldly looks, but also with its complex feeding and propulsion behaviors. Like all comb jellies, it generates flashing patterns of rainbow light as white light passes through the hairlike ctene-rows that help it move through the water.
More What's New
Nature's Scuba Divers
Teeny, tiny scuba divers are on exhibit in ¡Viva Baja! Life on the Edge—sunburst diving beetles (Thermonectus marmoratus).
These colorful arthropods are air breathers, but spend most of their lives under water, thanks to a special ability.
"They carry an air bubble with them like a scuba tank," says Senior Aquarist Todd Love.
At the water's surface, a beetle gathers a bubble under its wing cases that rises when it dives. The bubble, which functions sort of like a fish's gill, extracts oxygen from the surrounding water, which is then available to the beetle.
It's Hammerhead Time!
We're welcoming back scalloped hammerheads (Sphyrna lewini) to the Open Sea exhibit. The female sharks are between one and two years old. We waited until they grew to about three feet long before transporting them from Kaneohe, Hawaii to our off-site Animal Research and Care Center (ARCC). Over 11 months we fed, trained and observed them as they grew large enough to place on exhibit.
"Since we received them at a small size, they would have had to compete with much larger and faster animals if we put them directly into the Open Sea exhibit," says Ann Greening, senior aquarist and the lead on our elasmobranch (sharks, rays and skates) team. "Holding them at the ARCC allows us to acclimate and grow them to a larger size, get them used to divers, and train them to come to a target at a feeding station, which is key to their success in eating in a large community exhibit."
Table of Contents
- Director's Note
- The Ocean Memory Lab: Our Ocean Time Machine
- Online Exclusive: More about our Ocean Memory Lab
- Summer at the Aquarium
- What's New: Spotted comb jellies, diving beetles and scalloped hammerheads
- Thanks: Creating a Lasting Legacy for the Ocean, Business Partners