VIDEO: Surreal deep-sea jellyfish near Mariana Trench

By AG Staff Writer 3 May 2016
Reading Time: 2 Minutes Print this page
Deep-sea researchers exploring around the Mariana Trench have filmed a bizarre-looking jellyfish 3700m below the surface.

RESEARCHERS EXPLORING THE world’s deepest waters around the Mariana Trench have filmed a bizarrely beautiful jellyfish at a depth of 3700m.

The surreal footage was captured during a deep-sea dive on 24 April while exploring the Enigma Seamount – named as such because we know so little about it.

The dive was part of a three-month expedition conducted by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), aimed at collecting data for little-explored areas around the Mariana Trench and the Mariana Islands, located in the western Pacific Ocean between Japan and New Guinea.

Scientists spotted the strange, glowing jellyfish during the fourth dive of the first leg of the expedition, aboard the NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer ship, using a remote-operated vehicle (ROV) called Deep Discoverer.

Marine biologists identified the never-before-seen jellyfish as a type of jelly called “hydromedusa”, belonging to the genus Crossota.

“Note the two sets of tentacles — short and long,” said a statement accompanying the original video. “At the beginning of the video, you’ll see that the long tentacles are even and extended outward and the bell is motionless. This suggests an ambush predation mode. Within the bell, the radial canals in red are connecting points for what looks like the gonads in bright yellow.”

The NOAA researchers are logging daily updates of their three-cruise expedition, which started on 20 April and will continue until 10 July. They hope to identify and better understand extreme life living in the deepest oceanic trench on the planet, as well as learn more about unusual deep-sea geology such as hydrothermal vents.

On the same dive in which they spotted the jellyfish, the researchers also found a field of small, sedimented balls which they think may either be a close relative of a species of single-celled amoeba called Gromia sphaerica or sea sponges.

The Mariana Trench is the deepest place in the ocean. In 2012, Hollywood director James Cameron completed the first solo descent of the trench’s deepest spot, 11km below the surface. The dive was aboard a submarine called the Deepsea Challenger, which was designed with Australian engineer Ron Allum and built and assembled in Sydney, New South Wales.