Scientists Discover New Jellylike Blob Species in the Deep Sea

The comb jellies were discovered using NOAA's remotely-operated Deep Discoverer vehicle.
Chris Young
Duobrachium sparksaeNOAA

An NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries) research team revealed that it has discovered Duobrachium sparksae, a new species of ctenophore, or comb jelly.

The discovery was made remotely using high-definition video footage captured at the bottom of the ocean by the remotely operated vehicle (ROVDeep Discoverer during a dive off the coast of Puerto Rico.


A deep-sea encounter

The encounter of Deep Discoverer with the new species actually took place in 2015. However, as the team had to confirm the discovery of a new species using only high definition footage, they had to take their time verifying their finding.

Deep Discoverer's cameras were able to pick up subtle details on the new specimen's body. A laser system also helped to measure the sea creature, showing that its body was approximately 6cm long and its tentacles were approximately 30cm long.

As Science Alert reports, analysis of the organism — which is now detailed in a new paper — showed that the organism is easily distinguishable from all other known ctenophore species.

"It's unique because we were able to describe a new species based entirely on high-definition video," NOAA marine biologist Allen Collins, explained in a press statement.

"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."

Observing the behavior of Duobrachium sparksae

Duobrachium sparksae's most notable feature, the researchers say, is its bulbous, balloon-like body. Three different individuals were filmed during the Deep Discoverer's expedition in 2015 around 3,900 meters (almost 2.5 miles) under the sea. One of these appeared to be using its tentacles to anchor itself to the seabed, the researchers say.

The next step would of course be to retrieve a physical sample of the new species. However, sightings such as these are so rare that the researchers concede another may not even happen in our lifetimes. 

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