Rare footage of deep-sea creatures unveiled

Written by Oceanographic Staff

A robot camera on MBARI’s ocean rover caught some rare deep-sea creatures on film 3,200 feet under the sea.

Doc Ricketts, one of Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute’s (MBARI) robotic rovers, sports powerful HD cameras and LED lights to detect and record marine life in the deep sea. For the past months, the submersible has explored the undersea canyons off central California which are close to the Pacific Ocean’s abyssal plains. New high-quality footage of rarely seen deep-sea creatures emerged.

One special sighting was the one of a giant phantom jelly, a species that has only been seen around 100 times before. First described in 1910 and identified in the 1960s, the giant phantom jelly can stretch to a length of up to 33 feet and sports four ‘mouth arms’ that the species uses to catch its prey and to tread water. The footage sheds some light on a species that very little is known about. The deep-sea creature is expected to have a global distribution but doesn’t seem to live in the Arctic.

The MBARI research team writes: “Historically, scientists relied on trawl nets to study deep-sea 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. The cameras on MBARI’s ROVs have allowed MBARI researchers to study these animals intact in their natural environment. High-definition—and now 4K—video of the giant phantom jelly captures stunning details about the animal’s appearance and behaviors that scientists would not have been able to see with a trawl-caught specimen.”

Another special species caught on camera by the MBARI rover was the whalefish, a member of the Cetomimidae family. They don’t have scales, nor prominent fins and open their mouths to feed.

MBARI researchers also shared a clip of a barreleye fish on their YouTube channel that was found over 2,000 feet down in Monterey Bay. The species has a transparent head that is filled with fluid. It allows them to look up to scan the ocean for threats.

For more from our Ocean Newsroom, click here.

Photography courtesy of MBARI (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute) & Unsplash.

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