Black Water: Beroe

Meet the Beroe

This week we celebrate the genus of ctenophores known as Beroe.  Ctenophores as a group all move by coordinating rows of beating cilia.  They occupy all marine ecosystems, can be quite large and their beauty will entrance even seasoned blackwater divers.  They have limited few rudimentary senses and no central nervous system.  Instead, they have a nerve net around the mouth. Ctenophores are hermaphrodites, thus they do not have male and female sexes and selfing-or self fertilization- has been observed in some species.  Unlike typical jellies in the phylum cnidaria, ctenophores do not produce nematocysts but can recycle nematocysts from cnidarian prey.  Instead, some species have cells called colloblasts that shoot an adhesive substance at prey. Most of the ctenophores that we observe on blackwater dives are clear and lack bioluminescence.  The brilliant colors that we see are simply our own lights refracting off the body of the animal.

While most other ctenophores play an important role in preventing over-abundances of copepods and small fishes in pelagic environments, the 24 species of Beroe keep their close cousins in check by eating other ctenophores.  They have evolved a sac-like body form that is capable of expanding to envelop and pinch off other gelatinous animals.  Beroid 5 watermarkedCtenophore Beroid watermarked
-Jeffrey Milisen
MSc.
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