Welcome to the giant Siphonophore Apolemia

I have copied this from Open Ocean Exploration @RebeccaRHelm ~ I think I got everything ~ but take a look on Twitter if you are interested


Omg I have CHILLS. This is an ANIMAL. I’m guessing it’s over a hundred feet long, forming a spiral in the middle of the deep sea. I’ve gone on numerous expeditions and have never, EVER, seen anything like this. Let me tell you what this is and why it is blowing my mind

This animal is a kind of jelly, called a siphonophore. It’s made of millions of interconnected clones, like if the Borg and the Clone Wars had a baby together. There are about a dozen different jobs a clone can do in the colony, & each clone is specialized to a particular task…

most of the siphonophore colonies I’ve seen are maybe a 20cm long, maybe a meter. But THIS animal is massive. AND not just massive, the colony is exhibiting a stunning behavior: it’s hunting….

Some of the clones specialize in catching prey. Their slender bodies hang with a single long tentacle dangling like a hook-studded fishing line. Like the frilled tentacles of another siphonophore pictured below…


@SchmidtOcean bit.ly/2JLKWmS
A siphonophore colony in a line creates a curtain of deadly tentacles in the open ocean, but in THIS case, the animal is hunting in a galaxy-like spiral, the long wisp-like tentacles draped below. And the colony does not need to move to feed…
Once a clone captures its prey (a fish or crustacean) it will reel it to the colony & other clones that work as mouths will surround it. Often many swallowing it at once. Here is a video I took of another siphonophore, a man-o-war, eating prey. Once they prey is digested…
they’ll send the nutrients through a long digestive tract that travels down the whole colony, so that every other clone can use the nutrients. In this way, this siphonophore may remain still and feed for a long time, and I mean LONG…
There is no good way to age siphonophores, but everything in the deep sea grows incredibly slowly. It’s only a few degrees above freezing, life takes time to grow. This animal could be tens, possibly HUNDREDS of years old. And most of the time…
when a remotely operated vehicle sees one, the siphonophore quickly gets tossed in the swirling water around the machine (like the one below by

). I’ve seen long strands of siphonophores, *occasionally* a small spiral, but THIS!? This…

Is one of the largest and most stunning and pristine siphonophores that I’ve ever seen. And to think…
There are millions, probably billions of underwater siphonophore galaxies out there just like this one. Siphonophores are not rare, just fragile and remote. As we explore the ocean’s more, who knows what other creatures we will see.
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