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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277 Comments
  • annaanderson
    annaandersonSunday, March 14, 2021 at 2:32 pm
    Wow! So interesting.
    • unipug2
      unipug2Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 8:05 am
      Saw this on Octonauts.
      • peepster
        peepsterWednesday, January 20, 2021 at 3:07 pm
        That is crazy but super cool😮
        • emshappyplanet
          emshappyplanetSunday, January 10, 2021 at 5:51 pm
          Amazing!!
          • maria_goodvibes
            maria_goodvibesSaturday, December 12, 2020 at 10:01 am
            Woah so cool!
            • ilovetacoslol
              ilovetacoslolWednesday, December 2, 2020 at 1:28 pm
              Ooh i got the chills😋😨Those animals were so cool!!😄
              • hilo_peoples
                hilo_peoplesTuesday, February 16, 2021 at 2:08 pm
                ikr! Im for sure doing this for a school project
                • ilovetacoslol
                  ilovetacoslolWednesday, December 2, 2020 at 1:31 pm
                  They kind of look like animals that would come from a fantasy world <3🎇💖
                • mtgist
                  mtgistMonday, October 19, 2020 at 5:38 am
                  it might be the longest animal ever discovered
                  • zizerzazr
                    zizerzazrThursday, February 4, 2021 at 2:52 pm
                    No not right I know it is really big but the colossal squid is the longest animal that lives👓👔📘📗📙📕📓
                    • love-art
                      love-artWednesday, December 2, 2020 at 10:18 am
                      I think so too!
                    • elf_ofgreenleaf
                      elf_ofgreenleafSunday, October 18, 2020 at 2:42 pm
                      But otherwise this is cool ^w^
                      • elf_ofgreenleaf
                        elf_ofgreenleafSunday, 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.