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Home / Science / Coral "gangs" trap and eat jellyfish

Coral "gangs" trap and eat jellyfish



  Coral

Caption

The team studied coral in caves and overhangs off the Sicilian coast in the Mediterranean Sea

Scientists have discovered that tiny corals measuring just a few millimeters can unite and catch and eat much larger jellyfish.

The team, which included researchers from Italy and the University of Edinburgh, found that the corals also worked together to catch their prey.

They found that while jellyfish tried to escape, they grazed more corals, which then clung to them.

It used to be thought that only large corals could catch such prey.

Caption

The corals grouped together to catch and eat jellyfish by lurching past them

Prof. Murray Roberts of the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Edinburgh told Radio Scotland's Newsdrive program that the team was investigating cavern-dwelling coral off the Sicilian coast in the Mediterranean.

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He said that the corals typically lived on cliffs or overhangs and differed from their relatives in the tropics, which lived in closer connection with their prey.

He said: "These corals, which live in caves or overhangs, are darker conditions and it seems that they have evolved to live in these places, perhaps because the jellyfish are washed here when they flower.

Caption

The corals consumed pelagia noctiluca jellyfish, which cause painful stings to humans

"The corals are lying there, waiting to catch them."

"What we see is that if a tiny part of a jellyfish is caught in a coral polyp, others will often be able to get at it grab and the whole jellyfish is finally devoured and then eaten by the coral.

The team observed the corals feeding on Pelagia noctiluca jellyfish or the mauve sting responsible for most of the painful stings that people suffer while swimming the Mediterranean.

Prof Roberts said the discovery was conventional wisdom has overturned that corals were confined to rather small prey, such as shrimp and plankton.

He added, "The intriguing thing is that ecologically ̵

1; how are these corals aware of what they do, how do they work together, these individual polyps Coral to capture this larger prey?

The study by Luigi Musco, Tomás Vega Fernández, Erik Caroselli, John Murray Roberts, Fabio Badalamenti is published in Jo urnal Ecology.


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