Hunting in bioluminescent light: Vision in the nocturnal box jellyfish Copula sivickisi

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Cubomedusae all have a similar set of six eyes on each of their four rhopalia. Still, there is a great variation in activity patterns with some species being strictly day active while others are strictly night active. Here we have examined the visual ecology of the medusa of the night active Copula sivickisi from Okinawa using optics, morphology, electrophysiology, and behavioral experiments. We found the lenses of both the upper and the lower lens eyes to be image forming but under-focused, resulting in low spatial resolution in the order of 10-15°. The photoreceptor physiology is similar in the two lens eyes and they have a single opsin peaking around 460 nm and low temporal resolution with a flicker fusion frequency (fff) of 2.5 Hz indicating adaptions to vision in low light intensities. Further, the outer segments have fluid filled swellings, which may concentrate the light in the photoreceptor membrane by total internal reflections, and thus enhance the signal to noise ratio in the eyes. Finally our behavioral experiments confirmed that the animals use vision when hunting. When they are active at night they seek out high prey-concentration by visual attraction to areas with abundant bioluminescent flashes triggered by their prey.




Garm, A., Bielecki, J., Petie, R., & Nilsson, D. E. (2016). Hunting in bioluminescent light: Vision in the nocturnal box jellyfish Copula sivickisi. Frontiers in Physiology, 7(MAR).

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