During an expedition in Western Australia’s underwater canyons, scientists have discovered at least 30 new marine species and what may be the longest animal ever seen.
In a report by the Guardian, the scientists have found a siphonophore, which is estimated to be at 150 feet (46 meters). Siphonophores are deep-sea predators made up of many small clones that spread out like a single long string in the water. Scientists think the one they found may the longest one yet.
Nerida Wilson, a senior research scientist at the Western Australia Museum who led the expedition, told The Guardian that they made the discovery when they least expected it.
“Most scientists had drifted out of the control room,” Wilson said. “The word soon spread and people came pouring into the control room to share the excitement. It was just amazing to see this huge organism spread out like a spiral UFO, hovering in the water column. We wouldn’t believe what we were seeing.”
Siphonophores are like jellyfish, they feed by dangling stinging tentacles and the small crustaceans and fishes will be paralyzed and reeled up to the body of the colony.
It can be said that the discovered siphonophore is about twice as long as many blue whales and three times as long as a humpback whale.
Schmidt Ocean Institute, a non-profit group that supports oceanographic research, led the expedition. Along with the siphonophores, the team of scientists also collected a number of other deep-sea animals including an octopus squid, a long-tailed sea cucumber, glass sponges and the first giant hydroids, which is a colony of animals that looks like an upside-down jellyfish.
They found the species in the protected area Gascoyne Coast bioregion.
“While it’s a protected area, we actually have no idea what lives there,” Wilson added. “We really wanted to reveal the incredible biodoversity that is there.”
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