An online guide to the Stalked jellyfish (Stauromedusae) found
around the coastal waters of the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Includes notes on their identification, and where and how to find them.

The Goblet Lucernaria - The Aquarium: Unveiling the wonders of the deep sea by Mr. P. H. Gosse 1854
Plate of Depastrum cyathiforme from Ann. and Mag. Nat. His. by Mr. P. H. Gosse 1860. Lignigraphs of Belmont and Byng-Cliff from The Aquarium: Unveiling the wonders of the deep sea by Mr. P. H. Gosse 1854.

Belmont and Byng-Cliff are shore sites at Weymouth, Dorset; the sites are just north of Portland Harbour.

Gosse has used the common name Goblet Lucernaria here. Care must be taken not to mis-apply this name, two other species have been called Goblet stalked jellyfish. The application here may be in a sense common, the question is, "Is there any further evidence that might support its UK adoption?" If so, then we need to apply a name to Craterolophus convolvulus to avoid confusion with it, for the latter species is referred to as goblet-shaped.


By P. H. GOSSE, Esq., F.R.S., A.L.S.


The shore of the Bay known by the name of Belmont, curving between the Nothe and Byng-Cliff, consists of a series of low ledges almost horizontal, running east and west, with a very gentle dip to the southward*. They are for the most part densely covered with a matted drapery of Fucus serratus and canaliculatus, which hangs over the northern edges, and conceals the narrow clefts that traverse them. If we go at low water as far down as we can reach, and lift the heavy masses from the ledges, and from the clefts, we shall find them no unprofitable hunting ground. Many kinds of delicate sea-weeds grow under the shadow of the coarse olive Fuci, and among them crawl many Nudibranch Mollusca and other interesting creatures.

* Site what is possibly now known as Newton's Cove ?.

It was here that I met with the Goblet Lucemaria, (L. cyathiformis), apparently a rare species, since it seems to have been seen by only two observers, the Norwegian zoologist Sars, who first described it, and Dr. Landsborough, who gave it a place in the British Fauna, by finding it on the coast of Arran. Dr. Johnston has given in his British Zoophytes, p. 475, a short description and a figure taken from this latter specimen. The specimen which I have found is evidently indentical with this, though there are some differences in the form.

When extended, it stands about one-third of an inch in height, shaped like a goblet, with an oval body, somewhat flattened, being broad in one aspect, and thin in another at right angles to it. This is perpendicularly corrugated, so as to form four irregular lobes. Above the body there is a decided neck or constriction, not indicated in Dr. Johnston's figure, above which the tentacular disk expands much like the mouth of a phial. Below, the body is supported by a corrugated footstalk, capable of considerable extension and contraction, terminating in a flat, dilated, sucking disk.

Viewed from above, the tentacular disk is seen to be a pellucid gelatinous membrane, of a form indistinctly stellar, with eight points. The spaces between the points are furnished with tentacula, about twelve in each space, which are short, rather crowded, and set in three rows, a little overarching the margin. Those in the middle of the interspace are the longest, and the length diminishes on each side : the points themselves are destitute of tentacles. The tentacles are composed of a thick cylindrical stem, which has a central opaque core; and a globular white head, which, under a power of 200 diameters, showed neither hairs nor ciliary action, but appeared viscous. The tentacles originate without the margin of the disk, for the edge of the latter is distinctly traced within their bases.

The delicate transparent disk is shallowly funnel shaped, descending abruptly in the centre, where rises a cup-like mouth of a greenish hue, formed of thin membrane, capable of considerable motion, sometimes taking a circular shape, and at others wrinkled into four lobes or lips, strongly reminding one of the peduncle of many 'Medusae. Each of these lobes corresponds with one, taken alternately, of the marginal angles, as do also four black spots, rising from the interior of the body, and projecting into the disk immediately around the mouth. These spots are the summits of as many dark bands that are seen running down the body longitudinally, and which appear to be connected with the ovaries, for each of them is bounded by a series of pale egg-like bodies, the upper extremity of each series running off in a number of globular white corpuscles towards each of the eight marginal interspaces.

The general colour of the animal is a pale dusky brown or grey, the tint becoming warmer in some parts. The translucency of the integument reveals the internal organs, and hence the light and dark bands already spoken of are conspicuous.

When I discovered the little creature it was attached by its foot to a fragment of rock. For convenience of examination I gently dislodged its sucker, as I would have removed an Actinia, supposing it would soon adhere to the sides of its vessel. While I have had it, however, it has showed no inclination to refix itself, but lies at length on the bottom. The tentacular disk is habitually expanded, and it is not at all timid or impatient of handling. If rough usage be applied, and especially if it be lifted out of the water, it presently enfolds the margin to so great an extent as nearly to conceal the tentacles. The footstalk is also contracted by corrugation, but no sooner is it immersed again than this is lengthened, and the tentacles are expanded as before. The changes in the outline of the lips, and slight jerkings of the body to and fro, or corrugations of the surface in various degrees, constitute the chief of its movements.

On cutting off the globular head of a tentacle and submitting it to pressure, I found the structure to contain a moderate number of minute thread-capsules, about 1/1700th of an inch in length, of two forms: - the one long-oval, apparently carrying a simple thread; the other oval, with a distinct internal chamber near one end, indicating an armature on the thread. The threads were projected from the former in several instances, but I saw no example of the propulsion of the latter.

I afterwards obtained a second specimen of this little Lucernaria, on a similar rocky ledge which runs out from the eastern point of Lulworth Cove. In every respect it agreed with the one above described, which may therefore be considered as representing its normal condition. Though inconspicuous for size or colour, it is a form of much interest to the naturalist, as it is evidently much less aberrant from the Actiniae proper, with which its affinities connect it, than the broad gelatinous-disked species to which the genus Lucernaria was confined before the discovery of L. cyathiformis. Though still peculiar, the form is not very remote from that of the genus Corynactis, by which, as I conceive, it is linked with Actinia.

Depastrum cyathiforme Goblet Lucernaria Stalked jellyfish Gosse 1860 Plate Image