No common name

Tripedalia cystophora

FAMILY

Carybdeidae

TAXONOMY

Tripedalia cystophora Conant, 1898, Kingston Harbor, Puerto Rico.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

None known.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Small, mature jellies 0.02-0.4 in (0.5 mm-1.0 cm) in diameter. Bell slightly yellow brown, blends well with the mangrove habitat.

DISTRIBUTION

Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

HABITAT

Shallow waters among mangrove roots.

BEHAVIOR

As D. oculata aggregate in vertical lift shafts generated by the sun shining through the mangrove roots, T. cystophora change their swimming speed and turning rate in the light shafts, re-

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Tripedalia cystophora

sulting in the jellies spending more time in the light shafts where they can feed on the copepods.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Preys on dense swarms of the copepod Dioithona oculata in the mangrove prop-root habitat of Puerto Rico, where it has been intensely studied.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Unique in cubozoans, broods fertilize eggs until they develop into planulae within gastral pockets. Planulae are released upon maturity. Show a preference for settling on substrates in the dark where they develop directly into a medusa.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not listed by the IUCN.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Not harmful to humans, but plays an important role in marine education as it is exhibited in many aquaria. ♦

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