A New Sea Creature Has Been Discovered: The Comb Jelly

The life that lives under the waters of the sea is both fascinating and thought-provoking. It is a world that is nearby and accessible but it is also a part of our planet that is largely unexplored. In fact, we regularly hear about new discoveries, and they spark the imagination when they happen.

One of the common sea creatures that are found in oceans around the world is the jellyfish. One of those is the Ctenophora, which swim by means of “combs,” which are actually groups of cilia that move in unison. A new species of Ctenophora was found in 2015 near Puerto Rico, and it is being studied.

The discovery occurred some 3,910 meters under the surface of the ocean, 40km from Puerto Rico. A camera was being used at the time when the new animal was found. They are calling it the Duobrachium sparksae.

Photo: YouTube/NOAA Fisheries

Deep Discoverer, a remote-operated vehicle, was being used to explore the Arecibo amphitheater canyon off the coast of Puerto Rico when the new animal was discovered. It happened when a science team working near Washington DC at NOAA’s Exploration Command Center was reviewing the footage.

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After making the discovery, NOAA called it unique in a press release, because they used high-definition video to describe the new species. According to that press release, researcher Mike Ford said it is a “beautiful and unique” creature.

Photo: YouTube/NOAA Fisheries

More and more frequently, video footage is being used to explore the ocean. The technology is advancing, but when this jelly was discovered in 2015, the ROV did not have the ability to collect samples. It makes the discovery of new sea life somewhat controversial when it is done by video alone.

Collins said: “Even if we had the equipment, there would have been very little time to process the animal because gelatinous animals don’t preserve very well; ctenophores are even worse than jellyfish in this regard.”

Photo: YouTube/NOAA Fisheries

Although no physical specimens are available, there are three different video specimens of the Duobrachium sparksae. After being reviewed by the science team, they were made available to the collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

Collins describes the jelly in this way: “The ctenophore has long tentacles, and we observed some interesting movement. It moved like a hot air balloon attached to the seafloor on two lines, maintaining a specific altitude above the seafloor. Whether it’s attached to the seabed, we’re not sure. We did not observe direct attachment during the dive, but it seems like the organism touches the seafloor.”

Photo: YouTube/NOAA Fisheries

He went on to explain that the video provided enough information so that they could study the creature in detail, including their “reproductive parts.”

You can see more of this discovery in the following video:

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