Pyrosomes are one of the ocean’s weirdest creatures
In March, a group of CSIRO scientists aboard the RV Investigator came across an unusual problem: while exploring the ocean floor, a bloom of pyrosomes interfered with their data collection system.
Pyrosomes are extremely bizarre creatures that most people haven’t heard of. And that’s because they’re rarely seen, leading scientists to regularly refer to them as the “unicorns of the sea.”
The CSIRO scientists described the pyrosomes as “firm, cucumber-like creatures” that are made up of thousands of individuals that reproduce asexually by cloning themselves and forming colonies, mostly in the shape of hollow tubes.
These hollow tubes can be many metres long, while some could fit nicely in your hand.
They’re also bioluminescent. “They descended around our ship the night of 28 March and there were so many around that it was literally glowing in the dark due to their bioluminescence,” the CSIRO wrote on Instagram.
There haven’t been many opportunities to study pyrosomes up close, and so their run-in with the CSIRO research vessel was fortunate.
“Not much is actually known about pyrosomes so this voyage provided a great opportunity to collect samples and study more about their cell structure, their size distribution and their decomposition rate.” they wrote.
The pyrosome isn’t the only suggestive animal of the ocean recently encountered by the CSIRO.
Here you can, see the deep sea ‘peanut worm’ that’s making everyone uncomfortable: