Studying sea creatures that live in the dark depths of the ocean is quite difficult, but technology has evolved, and we can now shed some light on the mysterious creatures. Researchers have recently filmed 10 minutes of an encounter with a very weird jellyfish named Deepstaria enigmatica.
This creature was found in the 1960s, and then in 1967 it was described and named like this because it has rarely appeared since then. Over the years, scientists saw only a few of them, but there is no information on what and how it eats, how it reproduces and how it can tolerate such depths.
It Looks Like A Plastic Bag…
In November 2017, researchers within the ocean exploration program from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) used a submersible (remotely operated underwater vehicle – ROV) with an ultra-high sensitivity camera to get images in the dark ocean.
They found a D. Enigmatica drifting at a depth of almost 3,200 feet down, in complete darkness.
In an interview with the National Geographic, David Gruber, a marine biologist at Harvard University said:
“This animal just drifted by the ROV Hercules. We didn’t collect this. It’s barely ever been seen because it’s so fragile and it just floats in the midwater.”
If you don’t get close for a better look, you would mistake D. enigmatica with a plastic bag. It’s a delicate creature, has a thin bell and no tentacles. The big question is how it gets its prey?
And It Closes Like a Plastic Bag Too!
The creature is thought to prey on its food by enlarging its bell up to a meter across. When it catches the prey, it will close the bell membrane around the ‘snack’ just like a bag. The study writes:
“By approaching a specimen of D. enigmatica with a relatively low light intensity (274 lumens) and utilising a low-light camera, we were able to film the organism with its umbrella open.”
The bell membrane closes and opens very fast, and the creature uses it to move through the water. This Deepstaria was so close to the camera and very comfortable too. The team could see the gastrovascular canals that line its bell.
The research appeared in the journal American Museum Novitates.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.