Friday Harbor Marine Laboratories, University of Washington
San Juan Island, Washington
Archival Pigment Print
These glassy orbs belong to a group of animals called comb jellies, similar to jellyfish in that most are gelatinous predators living in the plankton. But unlike jellyfish, which swim by the muscular pulsing of their bells, sea gooseberries get around with the action of hundreds of little paddles called combs, each one made up of microscopic cilia (mobile, cellular extensions) fused together. Sea gooseberries have eight rows of the iridescent combs running from one pole to the other like seams on a beach ball. Like an enormous vessel propelled by so many tiny oarsmen, there are no quick getaways for the gooseberry, and its travels are largely dictated by ocean currents.