A New Species that Moves Like Hot Air Balloon Discovered by Scientists

During an underwater expedition, a new species of ctenophore or comb jelly was discovered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries research team. And the footage of the new ctenophore was recorded two and a half miles below sea level using the remotely operated vehicle of NOAA.

What is this New Comb Jelly Species?

So first, what is ctenophore or comb jelly? These are the following details about comb jelly according to NOAA:

  • Most comb jellies have eight rows of comb-like cilia that rhythmically beat, refracting light into colors, as they paddle through the water.
  • Between 100–150 species of comb jellies have been identified and validated.
  •  All ctenophore species are carnivores and many are highly efficient predators that eat small arthropods and many kinds of larvae.
  • Comb jellies and jellyfish are not closely related, although they look similar.

According to NOAA,  the new creature that was discovered in the underwater expedition is called the Duobrachium sparksae.

Watch this!

In a 2015 dive,  through a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) called the Deep Discoverer, a high definition video of the new species of ctenophore was captured off the coast of Puerto Rico. And this is the first time a high-definition video was used by scientists from NOAA to exclusively describe and annotate a new species.

Know more about the discovery of the Duobrachium Sparksae through this video.

Furthermore, on separate occasions, three different animals were filmed according to NOAA Fisheries Scientist Mike Ford.

In the statement of Allen Collins, scientist of NOAA Fisheries, he said that it is unique that they were able to describe a new creature on a high definition video and the captured footage can give them enough information to understand the morphology in detail.

“It’s unique because we were able to describe a new species based entirely on high-definition video. The cameras on the Deep Discoverer robot are able to get high-resolution images and measure structures less than a millimeter. We don’t have the same microscopes as we would in a lab, but the video can give us enough information to understand the morphology in detail, such as the location of their reproductive parts and other aspects”

-NOAA Fisheries Scientiest Allen Collins

Collins added in his statement that there are no physical samples that were collected and the only evidence of the existence of the new creature was the videos.

“We didn’t have sample collection capabilities on the ROV at the time. 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. High-quality video and photography were crucial for describing this new species”

-NOAA Fisheries Scientiest Allen Collins

“When we made these observations, we were 4,000 meters down, using a remote vehicle, and we did not have the capabilities to take a sample,” Ford added.

More Details About Duobrachium sparksae

Here are more details about the new ctenophore species based on the captured footage according to Ford:

  • It has long tentacles, and some interesting movement was observed.
  • It moved like a hot air balloon attached to the seafloor on two lines, maintaining a specific altitude above the seafloor.
  • The new species can be considered that it serves similar roles to other ctenophores near the ocean floor and it also has some similarities to other ctenophores in open ocean areas said Ford.

In another statement by Ford regarding the details of the new creature,  he stated that “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.”

Also, Ford has stated that they are not sure of what is the role of the new species in the ecosystem yet and there is still much to learn about it.

Full Research

The full research about the new species is explained on the Plankton and Benthos Research with the title Duobrachium sparksae (incertae sedis Ctenophora Tentaculata Cydippida): A new genus and species of benthopelagic ctenophore seen at 3,910 m depth off the coast of Puerto Rico.

Source: NOAA, Plankton and Benthos Research

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