Australian Scientists Discover Massive Deep Sea Predator That Looks Like Silly String

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The massive siphonophore was discovered in the waters off western Australia (Credit: Schmidt Ocean Institute)

On March 16, 2020, researchers aboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute's ship Falkor stumbled upon a beautiful *giant* Apolemia, a type of siphonophore, in the Indian Ocean off western Australia. The scientists are not sure of the exact length of the silly string-like creature, which was found in the Ningaloo Canyons at a depth of 2,070 feet (631 meters). However, based on the measurement of its outer ring by a laser-equipped drone, they estimate it was 150 feet (46 meters) long.

"We think it's the longest animal recorded to date," Dr. Carlie Wiener, director of marine communications at the institute, told USA TODAY.

Each siphonophore is a colony of thousands of individuals (Credit: Schmidt Ocean Institute/Instagram)

Siphonophores, which are related to jellyfish, are deep-sea predators that prey on tiny crustacean and fish using the vast array of stinging cells on their tentacles. Though they appear as a single organism, every specimen is a gelatinous colony made up of thousands of individuals, each fulfilling a specialized function. Some are responsible for catching prey, while others are charged with distributing the nutrients throughout the colony.

Dr. Rebecca Helm, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina, who was not part of the expedition, believes the find is significant because siphonophores are fragile and hard to find. "I've gone on numerous expeditions and have never, EVER, seen anything like this," she wrote in a tweet. "THIS animal is massive. AND not just massive, the colony is exhibiting a stunning behavior: it's hunting." The researcher, who specializes in the evolution and development of jellyfish, speculates that because it takes a long time for life to grow in the near-freezing deep sea temperatures, this creature could be "tens, possibly HUNDREDS of years old."

This was not the only intriguing animal discovered by the Schmidt Ocean Institute researchers during their investigation of the rarely explored deep-sea areas in and around Australia. Their month-long expedition across Bremer Bay, Perth Canyon, and the Ningaloo Canyons, which involved 20 dives, has led to the discovery of about 30 new species! Here is a glimpse of the amazing underwater world the lucky scientists experienced.

Resources: USAtoday.com, schmidtocean.org, www.slashgear.com



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245 Comments
  • theodd1sout1
    theodd1sout1Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 11:33 am
    It kinda looks a parasite... Gross but still it is really cool.
    • rocketleaguepro
      rocketleagueproWednesday, May 27, 2020 at 10:37 am
      Wow cool!
      • icemaster2010
        icemaster2010Monday, May 25, 2020 at 6:22 am
        I wonder what it is
        • jhanime
          jhanimeMonday, May 18, 2020 at 2:00 pm
          looks like a dungeons and dragons monster!
          • its_mee
            its_meeMonday, May 18, 2020 at 8:01 am
            weird but cool
            • guster
              gusterFriday, May 15, 2020 at 6:39 am
              They DO look like silly putty.
              • lufovihy-158714913221
                lufovihy-158714913221Wednesday, May 13, 2020 at 12:26 pm
                interesting. '-'
                • sammy6
                  sammy6Wednesday, May 13, 2020 at 9:45 am
                  How did they get a drone in the ocean??
                  • xxaestheticsxx
                    xxaestheticsxxWednesday, May 13, 2020 at 7:44 am
                    Who new there was a creature that looked like silly string
                    • sachin-768
                      sachin-768Tuesday, May 12, 2020 at 5:20 pm
                      this is a very interesting creature