No common name

Polyorchis penicillatus

ORDER Capitata

FAMILY Polyorchidae

TAXONOMY

Melicertum penicillatum Eschscholtz, 1829, California, United States.

OTHER COMMON NAMES None known.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS Hydroid: unknown.

Medusa: bell up to 2.3 in (60 mm) high, with a gastric peduncle, up to 160 marginal hollow tentacles in a simple row along exumbrellar margin; tentacular bulbs tubular, adnate, with bright red ocellus on short spur; four radial canals with numerous, short, blind lateral diverticula; ring canal with centripetal diverticula; manubrium prismatic, pendulous, sausage shaped; four crenulated oral lips with distinct cnidocyst row; gonads pendulous and long, hanging from peduncular manubrium pouches.

DISTRIBUTION

Pacific Ocean, from the coasts of the North American continent to Hawaii. (Specific distribution map not available.)

HABITAT

Bays and gulfs.

BEHAVIOR

It is a benthic medusa, but it can periodically come to the surface and sink back to the bottom.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Foraging takes place mostly on the bottom of bays, where the medusae feed on crustaceans, mainly copepods.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

The medusae are present all year round and are mostly ripe. In spite of this widespread occurrence of the medusae, the polyp stage remains unknown.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Concern has been expressed about the impact of coastal development on this animal. Because of its preference for bays, it is very sensitive to coastal pollution.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

It is used in aquarium displays for educational purposes. ♦

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