Rare shapeshifting jellyfish found on the Pacific seafloor


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What within the title of Neptune’s beard is that factor? A ghost? An alien? The ghost of an alien?

Such have been the questions that vexed a workforce of deep-sea scientists aboard the Nautilus analysis vessel earlier this month, when their underwater recon robotic encountered a limp, limbless creature hovering like a ghostly lantern over the Pacific seafloor. Because the workforce watched, the bell-shaped blob immediately reworked, ballooning into an extended, translucent windsock with a mysterious purple splotch caught to its innards.

The blob, the researchers revealed in a latest video of the encounter, was no alien (it is by no means aliens), however one of many rarest-seen and least-studied jellyfish within the sea.

It is referred to as Deepstaria (named for the analysis vessel that first found the genus within the 1960s), and has been seen solely a dozen or so instances within the final half-century. Researchers do not know a lot in regards to the armless, shapeshifting sack, however they do realize it has a behavior of increasing its physique to engulf any prey trusting sufficient to swim close by.

That would clarify the purple splotch contained in the jelly’s stomach. When the researchers zoomed in on the shapeshifting jelly, they noticed that the purple hanger-on was a tiny, still-living isopod — a sort of bottom-feeding crustacean — that will have willingly swum into the jelly’s open physique for cover from fiercer, less-blobby predators. Such “resident isopods,” because the researchers referred to as them, have been noticed clinging onto different Deepstaria specimens too, although it’s not clear whether or not they share a symbiotic relationship.

Little, typically, is thought about Deepstaria jellies or their isopod consorts, as so few specimens have been studied. The Nautilus workforce discovered this deep-sea duo some 2,500 ft (750 meters) underwater within the Central Pacific, about midway between the continental United States and Australia. Maybe they’ll discover extra Deepstaria — or one thing even weirder — as their adventures by the deep darkness proceed by October.

Initially printed on Reside Science.

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