Scientists exploring the deep sea off the coast of Puerto Rico recently spotted a stunning species of jellyfish they’ve since nicknamed “the psychedelic Medusa.”
Officially known as a Rhopalonematid jelly Crossota millsae, this species previously has been spotted in depths below 3,000 feet (914 meters) in deep-sea regions from the Pacific to the Arctic.
The ‘psychedelic Medusa’ can engage in 360-degree feeding, thanks to its abundant tentacles.
(Photo: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)
According to Mike Ford of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service, this particular individual appears to be a male.
“This is not the first time we have encountered a specimen like this — other species in this family of jellies have been caught by our ROV’s cameras,” he writes. “Certainly psychedelic, the video shows a jelly in a very interesting pose, suggesting this jellyfish may feed by hovering above the seafloor with stinging cell-loaded tentacles extended and waiting for prey. In other dives, these poses were followed by rapid swimming.”
As Ford mentions above, NOAA has seen similar species in this colorful family of jellyfish before — including the bizarre “UFO” jelly discovered at a depth of 2.3 miles (3.7 kilometers) in May 2016.
The ‘UFO’ jellyfish, a member of the genus Crossota, was spotted during a NOAA deep-sea mission in 2016.
Past expeditions have also bumped into previously unknown species, such as the beautiful “ghost octopus” in the video below.
“This ghostlike octopod is almost certainly an undescribed species, and may not belong to any described genus,” NOAA zoologist Michael Vecchione wrote in a blog post about the discovery. “The appearance of this animal was unlike any published records.”
Interested in observing what strange creatures are uncovered next? From now until Dec. 16, you can follow the progress of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) and its partners as they explore and map deep sea regions from the Caribbean to the U.S. East Coast.