Angler siphonophore

(Erenna sirena)

This jelly-like animal fishes for its meals.

Siphonophores are close cousins of jellies. They’re fragile creatures composed of individual, specialized parts connected to each other in a chain. Some parts pulse and steer the colony, others stun and ingest prey. Siphonophores thrive in the midwater where there aren’t any sharp surfaces to damage their delicate bodies. MBARI’s remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs, have revealed a surprising diversity of siphonophores in Monterey Bay and we’ve learned they’re important predators in the ocean’s depths.

We’ve discovered several remarkable new siphonophore species, including this especially cunning predator—the angler siphonophore (Erenna sirena). In a dazzling display of predatory prowess, it dangles luminescent lures that mimic crimson crustaceans and attract unsuspecting fishes. Zap! When a curious lanternfish gets too close, the siphonophore’s tentacles deliver a powerful sting and snare a meal.

Fast Facts

Maximum size: 45 centimeters (18 inches)

Depth: 1,600–2,400 meters (5,200–7,900 feet)

Habitat: midwater

Range: Central California to Baja California

Diet: small fishes

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Research publications

Pugh, P.R. and S.H.D. Haddock (2016). A description of two new species of the genus Erenna (Siphonophora: Physonectae: Erennidae), with notes on recently collected specimens of other Erenna species. Zootaxa, 4189(3): 401-446. doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4189.3.1.

Haddock, S.H.D., C.W. Dunn, P.R. Pugh, and C.E. Schnitzler (2005). Bioluminescent and red fluorescent lures in a deep-sea siphonophore. Science, 309: 263. doi.org/10.1126/science.1110441.

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