New footage showing a giant, bizarre-looking sea creature quietly floating in the depths of the Pacific Ocean has left researchers wondering if what they’re seeing is a new species.
A team of scientists discovered the strange animal while on board the E/V Nautilus, a research vessel used by the Ocean Exploration Trust – a non-profit organization that conducts deep-sea research. in Recently released video (Opens in a new tab), researchers on the expedition pleaded and entrusted when images of the strange creature came into focus. One of the scientists on board the boat can be heard saying off-camera “my mind is stunned now” as the remotely operated boat vehicle (ROV) scanned the ocean floor and approached the eerie sight. Another scientist sarcastically said, “I’m not on the edge of my seat or nothing.”
Moments later, the scientists spied on an eccentric creature nearby, although they were unable to record a video of the second person.
With tentacles extending 16 inches (40 cm) from a stalk about 7 feet (2 m) long, and a single feeding scion with spiny tentacles holding appendages like prickly petals, the creature looked like a very exotic, free-swimming flower that was roughly the size of an ROV. It was spotted on July 7 at 9,823 feet (2,994 meters) below the surface near a previously undiscovered seamount north of Johnston Atoll, an unincorporated US Territory and National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii.
The researchers initially suspected that they had crossed paths with Solumbellula monocephalus, also known as Solumbellula sea pen, is part of the Cnidaria phylum that includes jellyfish, hydra, and corals. However, the only known sightings of sea pens before this occurred in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, so it is likely that scientists have found a new species.
Related: 10 strange creatures found in the deep sea in 2021
Steve Oskowicz, the mission’s principal investigator and a deep-sea biologist and postdoctoral researcher at Boston University, described the sighting as “fantastic.”
“From time to time, we come across something we never expected to see, and those observations are often stronger,” he told Live Science.
He added, “We were nearing the end of our cruise and we were at the bottom of the sea when we saw the two of them [sea pens]. The image we captured on video was huge, probably the same size or larger than our Hercules, our ROV. When I saw this amazing sea pen on the video, I knew exactly what it could be.”
But just to confirm, Oskowicz sought input from shore biologists, who helped confirm his suspicions that it was a marine penguin, or close to a reef. Judging by the impressive size of the animal, Oskavich believed that it was rather ancient, but he could not establish an exact age. (sea pens reach maturity (Opens in a new tab) at the age of five or six, and can live for more than a decade.)
“before that, Solumbellula monocephalus It has never been seen in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and has never been collected.”
Interestingly, his team’s discovery came several months after scientists in Spain named two new sea pens embryos: Pseudomembilola. And the Solumbilola The latter will include new species. These results were published in February in the journal invertebrate systems (Opens in a new tab).
However, Oskavich said more research needs to be done to determine if this is the first Pacific Solumbellula monocephalus Or perhaps a new species in the ocean basin.
“Results like this are rare, and we never expected to see something like this,” he said. “The most exciting part of this research is that we come across these things from time to time, and it really broadens our horizons about where animals can live and exist in the deep sea.”
Originally published on Live Science.
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