Maximum Size

7 cm

(3 inches)


surface–2,800 m

(9,200 feet)



from surface to twilight (mesopelagic) and midnight (bathypelagic) zones


Other comb jellies


Arctic Ocean and northern Pacific Ocean


This predator’s pretty pink color is clever camouflage.

The abyssal comb jelly (Beroe abyssicola) patrols the midnight zone searching for its favorite food—other comb jellies. When Beroe finds another comb jelly, it opens its mouth wide. Rows of tiny hair-like cilia in its mouth act like teeth to help it take a bite of its prey, though sometimes a hungry Beroe will simply swallow its meal whole!

This predator prowls in dark depths where most animals can produce bioluminescence. A glowing gut would invite the attention of other predators. The crimson color of the abyssal comb jelly’s stomach absorbs the light produced by bioluminescent prey, keeping Beroe camouflaged.

MBARI researchers have learned that gelatinous animals like Beroe have a large impact on deep-sea food webs. Our archive of nearly 28,000 hours of deep-sea video contains hundreds of observations of deep-sea animals feeding. Examining these observations in detail revealed that jellies, comb jellies, and siphonophores are important as both predators and prey in the ocean’s midnight zone.


Video Clips


Christianson, L.M., S.B. Johnson, D.T. Schultz, and S.H.D. Haddock. 2021. Hidden diversity of Ctenophora revealed by new mitochondrial COI primers and sequences. Molecular Ecology Resources, 22: 283–294.

Choy, C.A., S.H.D. Haddock, and B.H. Robison. 2017. Deep pelagic food web structure as revealed by in situ feeding observations. Proc Biol Sci, 284: 1–10.

Francis, W.R., N.C. Shaner, L.M. Christianson, M.L. Powers, and S.H.D. Haddock. 2015. Occurrence of isopenicillin-N-synthase homologs in bioluminescent ctenophores and implications for coelenterazine biosynthesis. PLoS One, 10: e0128742. PDF.

Gasca, R., R. Hoover, and S.H.D. Haddock. 2014. New symbiotic associations of hyperiid amphipods (Peracarida) with gelatinous zooplankton in deep waters off California. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 95: 503–511.

Puente-Tapia, F.A., R. Gasca, A. Schiariti, and S.H.D. Haddock. 2021. An updated checklist of ctenophores (Ctenophora: Nuda and Tentaculata) of Mexican seas. Regional Studies in Marine Science, 41: 1–20.

Winnikoff, J.R., T.M. Wilson, E.V. Thuesen, and S.H.D. Haddock. 2017. Enzymes feel the squeeze: biochemical adaptation to pressure in the deep sea. The Biochemist, 39: 26–29. PDF.