A jellyfish discovered by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expedition is making headlines for its surreal appearance, which has been likened to something out of the movie Avatar. In addition to delighting Internet audience, the unknown jellyfish shows just how little people know about the deep sea.
As space agencies continue to try to find life in the galaxy, sometimes people forget that life is still being discovered here on Earth.
The NOAA wrote a brief description of the newly discovered jellyfish after sending out the video.
“Scientists identified this hydromedusa as belonging to the genus Crossota. Note the two sets of tentacles — short and long. 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 jellyfish’s otherworldly appearance is at least partially thanks to its bioluminescence, according to Christian Science Monitor. It was discovered at about 2.7 miles below the surface of the sea, where the sun is never seen and creatures are responsible for making their own light.
The NOAA Okeanos crew discovered the jellyfish near the Miarana’s trench while conducting their three-year mission to explore U.S.-protect marine zones. The trench contains amazing creatures, but it’s a wonder in and of itself.
As National Geographic explained, “If Mount Everest were dropped into the Mariana Trench, its peak would still be more than a mile underwater.”
At its deepest point, it is seven miles below the surface of the ocean. At that depth, human knowledge of the environment and its inhabitants is sparse. Okeanos hopes to fix that a bit, and discovering the jellyfish is one perk along the way. But they still have a long way to go. Oceans cover 70 percent of the planet and are currently 95 percent unexplored.
The NOAA explained, “The deep seafloor of the Pacific Ocean is one of the most poorly explored regions on Earth with very little known about the benthic (at the bottom of the ocean floor) animals that live beyond 3,000 feet in the PCZ (Prime Crust Zone).”
The Okeanos crew is currently above in the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, which is a 155,000 square mile area around the trench. The crew was exploring what’s been informally dubbed Enigma Seamount. According to the NOAA the current mission is to better understand the deep sea so that it can be better protected, and they’re mission comes at a critical time.
Russia, Japan and China among others are hoping to mine the deep sea for the valuable minerals, but as the newly discovered jellyfish shows, people don’t know enough about the environment to know how mining could affect deep-sea life. And at least some of it is adorable.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the NOAA also discovered a ghost-like octopus near Hawaii. The Casper-like creature was swimming 4,290 meters (about 14,074 feet) below the surface, making it the deepest incirrate octopus discovered. The little deep-sea swimmer was distinct in that it appeared to not have any pigment, leaving it without the camouflage abilities of its shallow-sea counterparts.
There might be even more deep-sea life discoveries on the way.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, the X Prize foundation is offering millions of dollars to scientists who produce robots to explore the sea floor. The new technology should easily lead to more species being discovered, like the Avatar-looking jellyfish and Casper the adorable octopus.
[Photo by David McNew/Getty Images]