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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270 Comments
  • mtgist
    mtgistMonday, October 19, 2020 at 5:38 am
    it might be the longest animal ever discovered
    • frodo_baggins
      frodo_bagginsSunday, October 18, 2020 at 2:42 pm
      But otherwise this is cool ^w^
      • frodo_baggins
        frodo_bagginsSunday, October 18, 2020 at 2:42 pm
        Some of the creatures in the videos are REALLY SCWARY
        • rayquaza123
          rayquaza123Saturday, October 10, 2020 at 2:53 pm
          I think it is interesting, but the creature looks kind of scary.
          • rayquaza123
            rayquaza123Saturday, October 10, 2020 at 2:49 pm
            I think it is really interesting.
            • love_the_ocean
              love_the_oceanTuesday, September 22, 2020 at 1:02 pm
              I love this! So interesting!
              • mushroom69
                mushroom69Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 7:25 am
                awesome
                • nico2
                  nico2Wednesday, September 16, 2020 at 9:42 am
                  This is fascinating, as a jellyfish lover. These are so cool! I want to know more about them. Hopefully they become better known.
                  • love_the_ocean
                    love_the_oceanTuesday, September 22, 2020 at 1:03 pm
                    I love Jellyfish I love all fish, I love every animal in the ocean. And don't worry, I'll spread the word!
                    • tigerzeye
                      tigerzeyeTuesday, October 6, 2020 at 8:12 am
                      These are not jellyfish, or fish. Mainly known as the Giant Siphonophore, (the silly string looking one) the Potuguese Man O War is a Siphonophore as well, the most interesting one in my opinion, is also the most terrifying, i couldnt find the name but its stingers (i think stingers) are at its face and then it just once again starts to look like silly string.
                      • albushogwarts
                        albushogwartsThursday, October 22, 2020 at 11:23 am
                        I got stung by a man o war once *shivers*
                  • huskylover92
                    huskylover92Tuesday, September 8, 2020 at 3:33 pm
                    it seems kind of cool to me
                    • penguinpop
                      penguinpopFriday, August 28, 2020 at 4:36 pm
                      Does it come out of a can like silly string?😂