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Comb jellies reported for the first time growing underneath mushroom plate corals

By Shane Graber - Posted Oct 02, 2013 11:00 AM
Many species of jellies are epizoic, meaning they grow / live nonparasitically on the outside of a living animal. However, up until now, they have not been observed growing on scleractinian corals like Fungia spp.
Comb jellies reported for the first time growing underneath mushroom plate corals

Overturned mushroom corals with coeloplanid aggregations at Payar Island.

Most of the world's comb jellies are planktonic with a lesser percentage (roughly one-third) living as benthic species, meaning they live on the ocean bottom.  Of these bottom-dwelling species, a number grow on octocorals.  However, up until a recent report in the journal Coral Reefs, none have been observed growing on scleractinian corals like Fungia spp.

In their report "Out of sight: aggregations of epizoic comb jellies underneath mushroom corals," researchers Hoeksema, Waheed, Alamaru report on this interesting finding.

This association was discovered in June 2013 during a biodiversity survey around Payar Island, Strait of Malacca, Malaysia. Large aggregations of these benthic comb jellies were discovered at about 9-12 meters in depth on the underside of many free-living mushroom corals, which included both Pleuractis moluccensis and Fungia fungites.

The authors note that similar associations were also found with other fungiids including Ctenactis echinata, Cycloseris costulata, Herpolitha limax, and Lithophyllon repanda in Eilat (Israel), Sabah (Malaysia), and South Sulawesi (Indonesia).

Author: Shane Graber
Location: Indiana

Shane has kept saltwater tanks for the last 12 years, is a research scientist, lives in northern Indiana, and is a proud Advanced Aquarist staffer.

Website: http://www.advancedaquarist.com/.

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