Despite advances in technology and research methods, much of the natural world is still waiting to be discovered.
The oceans are a particularly rich space for exploration, with unknown depths and creatures that, until science catches up, remain hidden.
Over the past few years, we’ve been treated to previously undiscovered sea beasties like the “headless chicken sea monster“.
Now scientists from the Schmidt Ocean Institute, exploring the ocean off Western Australia’s coast, have made some astounding discoveries – including what they believe to be 30 new species, along with what may be “the longest animal ever seen”.
Here’s The Guardian:
The discoveries were the result of expeditions into Western Australia’s underwater canyons. One of the biggest discoveries was a siphonophore measuring an estimated 150 feet (46 metres). Siphonophores are deep-sea predators made up of many small clones that act together as one and spread out like a single long string in the water. Researchers think this particular siphonophore may be the longest yet found.
That is both unsettling and very cool.
Check out the siphonophore in action:
Check out this beautiful *giant* siphonophore Apolemia recorded on #NingalooCanyons expedition. It seems likely that this specimen is the largest ever recorded, and in strange UFO-like feeding posture. Thanks @Caseywdunn for info @wamuseum @GeoscienceAus @CurtinUni @Scripps_Ocean pic.twitter.com/QirkIWDu6S
— Schmidt Ocean (@SchmidtOcean) April 6, 2020
Nerida Wilson, a senior research scientist at the Western Australia Museum, and leader of the expedition, says that the discovery of the extra-long siphonophore was accidental.
The research vehicle dove as deep as 4,439 metres, but the siphonophore was only discovered as the vehicle was making its way back to the surface at around 630 metres.
“Most scientists had drifted out of the control room,” Wilson said. “The word soon spread and people came pouring into the control room to share the excitement. It was just amazing to see this huge organism spread out like a spiral UFO, hovering in the water column. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing.”
To put the size of this thing into context, it’s twice as long as the average blue whale.
Siphonophores feed in much the same way as jellyfish. They dangle stinging tentacles in the water. If an unlucky fish makes contact with the tentacles they are stung, paralysed, and then pulled up into the body of the siphonophore.
The expedition has collected a number of deep-sea creatures that the scientists reckon haven’t been recorded yet.
More on that, here:
It will take months or even years to confirm that the creatures discovered are new to science.
Either way, they’re pretty amazing.
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