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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Predatory Comb Jelly Mnemiopsis leidyi

This comb jelly is a slightly flattened pear shape and has two rounded lobes on each side of the mouth that help it to surround and enclose larger prey. As well as two main feeding tentacles, there are smaller secondary tentacles in grooves surrounding the mouth. The long tentacles are armed with lasso cells that secrete a sticky material to ensnare prey.

The predatory comb jelly, which is native to the western Atlantic, was accidentally introduced to the Black Sea in the 1980s by the release of ship ballast water, and it has since spread to adjacent bodies of water, including parts of the eastern Mediterranean. In the Black Sea, it multiplied rapidly because of the ideal water conditions and the absence of its natural predators. This has had very serious effects on commercial fish catches because the predatory comb jelly is a planktonic predator and consumes fish larvae and fry.

Predatory Comb Jellyzoom image
  • Phylum Ctenophora
  • Length Up to 3 in (7 cm)
  • Depth 0–100 ft (0–30 m)
  • Habitat Open water
  • Distribution Temperate and subtropical waters of western Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Black Sea
Predatory Comb Jelly habitat mapzoom image