The Blue Button

The Blue Button

There is a tiny sea creature with a unique shape and a color of navy blue called Blue Button.

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Porpita porpita, or blue button, is a marine organism consisting of a colony of hydroids found in the warmer, tropical and sub-tropical waters of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Arabian Sea. It was first identified by Carl Linnaeus in 1758, under the basionym Medusa porpita.

The blue button can grow up to 30 mm in diameter and lives on the surface of the sea and consists of two main parts: the float and the hydroid colony. The hard golden brown float is round, almost flat, and about one inch wide. The floating organ is responsible for the organism’s vertical movement and also contains pores that can communicate with other P. porpita organisms as well as its surroundings. The hydroid colony, which can range from bright blue turquoise to yellow, resembles tentacles like those of the jellyfish. Each strand has numerous branchlets, each of the knobs of stinging cells called nematocysts terminates at the distal end.

The blue button has a single mouth located beneath the float, which is used for both the intake of prey and the expulsion of wastes. The mouth is surrounded by a ring of gonozooids and dactylozooids. Tentacles are only found on the dactylozooids, which exist furthest away from the mouth, towards the outer part of the hydroid colony.

The blue button is a part of the neustonic food web, which covers the organisms that inhabit the region on or near the surface of the ocean. This is because it is a passive drifter, which means that it relies on water currents and wind to carry it through the ocean. It is preyed on by the sea slug Glaucus atlanticus (sea swallow or blue glaucus) and violet sea-snails of the genus Janthina. Unlike Velella, which prefers a passive diet, Porpita will hunt active crustaceans like crab and fish. It competes with other drifters for food and mainly feeds on copepods and crustacean larvae.

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