The Venus Girdle – Cestum veneris

It is the only member of its genus – Cestum

Description:

The Venus Girdle fall into the order of Cestida (phylum Ctenophora). It is a member of the comb jellyfish, and may grow up to a meter in length, the width is about 5cm. It is a delicate violet in colour, but transparent with iridescent edges, looking very much like a large transparent ribbon. Along the length of the ribbon are canals, here bioluminesce is activated when it is disturbed, giving it glowing edges. Bioluminesce is the production and emission of light given off by a living organism. This is a very beautifull sight underwater to witness.

Distribution:

The Venus Girdle is found both in subtropical and tropical waters worldwide. It swims in mid-water and can be found close to walls and large rock formations. This species is pelagic. The word derived from the Greek word (pélagos) which means ‘open sea’

Ecology:

These animals eat crustaceans, often found on walls and rocky outlets. The Venus Girdle is a comb jelly, which means that it is equipped with ‘combs’ for movement. Using muscular contractions, the Venus Girdle can swim horizontally. It is also able to beat the comb rows along its body too. The oral edge leads in the swimming direction.

Reproduction:

TheVenus Girdle have both Female and Male gonads. They are hermaphrodites. As a rule of thumb, the gonads leave the parent ctenophore, and both the fertilization and the development take place in the ocean.

They can be seen here on Gozo during the months of May – July. Often, we see them swimming outside the Blue Hole along the wall and around the corner towards Coral Garden. Here, along the wall and rocks, is an abundance of crustacean providing food for the Venus Girdle.

The photo was taken by DiveSMART Gozo by Oliver Benndorff