Earlier this year, researchers sending robots and cameras down to the deepest depths stumbled upon what they are calling an incredibly rare and “stunning” sighting. A vibrantly purple siphonophore danced for the camera as it made its away just above the ocean floor.
The video footage, collected as part of the Nautilus Live expedition, was shot by the expedition’s Heculesediving craft during a live broadcast, and you can even hear the expedition teams’ stunned reactions as they realize what they thought was a floating piece of trash was actually an incredibly unusual creature of the deep.
"Oh how cool!" and "I can’t believe that’s a living thing!" were just some of the lines coming from experts who have been studying deep sea creatures for a good portion of their lives.
Siphonophores, intriguing relatives of the jellyfish, are organisms that function as collective communities. The stunning creature featured in the video above, for example, is not just one organism, but many (called zooids), collectively making up the whole and serving various functions such as locomotion and even predatory action. Many siphonophores comb the water around them, catching tiny organisms to consume, but they can also engulf and digest larger creatures - as best seen with the infamous siphonophore, the Portuguese man o’ war.
This specific siphonophore may be an exceptionally successful hunter, according to Jellywatch’s Steve Haddock, who is one of the few people in the world that is given the opportunity to study these animals on a regular basis.
He told Deep Sea News that many species in this group (Erenna spp.) are a dark color, possibly from all the fish they eat, where digested pigments do not immediately fade into the highly transparent predator.
You can check out more stunning images of this unusual creature here.
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