Ink release and swimming behavior in the oceanic Ctenophore Eurhamphaea vexilligera
Townsend, James P.
Gemmell, Brad J.
Sutherland, Kelly R.
Colin, Sean P.
Costello, John H.
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Of the more than 150 ctenophore species, the oceanic ctenophore Eurhamphaea vexilligera is notable for its bright orange-yellow ink, secreted from numerous small vesicles that line its substomodeal comb rows. To date, in situ observations by scuba divers have proved the most fruitful method of observing these animals’ natural behavior. We present the results of one such contemporary scuba-based observation of E. vexilligera, conducted in the Gulf Stream waters off the coast of Florida, using high-resolution photography and video. Utilizing underwater camera systems purpose built for filming gelatinous zooplankton, we observed E. vexilligera ink release and swimming behavior in situ. From these data, we describe the timeline and mechanics of E. vexilligera ink release in detail, as well as the animal’s different swimming behaviors and resulting ink dispersal patterns. We also describe a rolling swimming behavior, accompanied and possibly facilitated by a characteristic change in overall body shape. These observations provide further insight into the behavioral ecology of this distinctive ctenophore and may serve as the foundation for future kinematic studies.
Author Posting. © University of Chicago, 2020. This article is posted here by permission of University of Chicago for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Biological Bulletin 238(3), (2020): 206-213. doi:10.1086/709504.