A giant, strangely ribbon-like looking siphonophore, Apolemia, was spotted near the cost of Australia by a team of international researchers from local institutes, including Western Australia Museum, Schmidt Ocean Institute and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The Ningaloo Canyons Expedition was exploring the adjoining ocean with a help of sonar equipment and ROVs when they spotted a potentially “largest ever recorded” specimen in a weird UFO-like form.
Check out this beautiful *giant* siphonophore Apolemia recorded on #NingalooCanyons expedition. It seems likely that this specimen is the largest ever recorded, and in strange UFO-like feeding posture. Thanks @Caseywdunn for info @wamuseum @GeoscienceAus @CurtinUni @Scripps_Ocean pic.twitter.com/QirkIWDu6S— Schmidt Ocean (@SchmidtOcean) April 6, 2020
“Everyone was blown away when it came into view”, the expedition’s biologists Nerida Wilson and Lisa Kirkendale told ScienceAlert. “There was a lot of excitement. People came pouring into the control room from all over the ship. Siphonophores are commonly seen but this one was both large and unusual-looking”.
In a video, the creature was captured in a “a planar feeding posture”, the biologists explained, which makes it so weirdly “spiral UFO”-looking. The researchers noted that although it was difficult to know the exact measurements of this siphonophore, they estimated only its outer ring to be around 47 metres long, believing that it was “longer than any other animal on the planet”.
It looks like the giant could have been comprised of hundreds or thousands or even millions of zooids, where the nutrients from any captured prey were passed along its large body along a stem shared by all.