Biologists discovered the arguably largest siphonophore ever on a deep-sea expedition off the west coast of Australia.
It is a string of tens of meters long that consists of millions of jellyfish-like invertebrates that form one colony but give the impression of being an independent organism. On the scientific website Sciencealert, experts rave about the find: This is the most spectacular and longest spotted in the deep sea.
The siphonophore was discovered by chance when a submarine was on its way up again after examining part of the ocean and the seabed.
Full of amazement
The images from the submarine entered the control vessel on the surface, after which the staff enthusiastically and astonishedly watched the alien-like phenomenon on screens in the wheelhouse.
“We were completely blown away,” biologists Nerida Wilson and Lisa Kirkendale said afterward, especially because siphonophores are usually ‘only’ 25 meters long and more or less straight. “The outer circle of this slow and hypnotic moving shape was about 47 meters, so the overall length of the thing was enormous.”
Each individual who is part of a siphonophore has a specific task and a form adapted to that task. For example, there are eating, catching, touch, and sex animals. The creature’s prey consists of crustaceans and fish that are paralyzed and retained by nettle cells.