A rarely seen ghostly, breathtakingly beautiful phantom jellyfish (Stygiomedusa gigantea) has been captured on video.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) documented the colossal jellyfish in an exciting and unexpected sighting off the coast of California.
Scientists were steering a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) through Monterey Bay when they happened upon the awe-inspiring creature 3,200 feet beneath the waves.
“MBARI’s ROVs have logged thousands of dives, yet we have only seen this spectacular species nine times,” the Institute said in a comment on YouTube.
Drifting through the so-called “midnight zone” of the ocean — a region so deep even sunlight can’t reach — this eerie jellyfish was a sight to behold.
The bell, or umbrella-shaped body, of the supernatural creature spans over 3 feet, and its four ethereal arms “mouth arms” trailing behind it reach up to 33 feet in length.
While they’re not seen often, these gelatinous wonders are actually fairly widely distributed, and have been recorded in every ocean except for the Arctic. Even so, very little is known about them. Up until recently, researchers have relied on trawl nets to study such animals. “These nets can be effective for studying hardy animals such as fishes, crustaceans, and squids, but jellies turn to gelatinous goo in trawl nets,” explained MBARI. Now with improved technology, scientists are able to capture previously unseen species right in their element.
Scientists say they play an important role in their watery world, serving as shelter for a variety of fish passing through. On one similar expedition, MBARI’s ROV documented a fish hovering around the bell of the jellyfish, then swimming in and out of its arms. “The wide-open waters of the midnight zone offer little shelter, so many creatures find refuge in the gelatinous animals that are abundant in this environment,” said MBARI.
Watch the full video: