Scientists Discover Giant String-Like Sea Creature

While majority of the world is stuck at home looking for ways to pass the time and waiting the pandemic out, a team of scientists on the Schmidt Ocean Institute's research vessel Falkor managed to find something surprisingly silly on the ocean: a sea creature that looks like a giant silly string.

Surprising Sea Find

Isolated on the ocean during an expedition to study the Ningaloo Canyons off the western coast of Australia, the scientists aboard the research vessel Falkor weren’t expecting to find something both surprising and silly in the still waters. But it’s exactly what they did when they came upon a sea creature that resembles a giant string.

Called a siphonophore, the creature (which is closely related to jellyfish) looks like a crazy huge line of silly strings that are sprayed in a spiral pattern in the water. Made up of millions of interconnected clones, each of these has a different job in the colony and all measure about 154 feet collectively.

“It seems likely that this specimen is the largest ever recorded, and in strange UFO-like feeding posture,” the institute wrote.

And while it just looks line one long sea creature, the siphonophore is actually a collection of parts, all of which act differently in the “colony.” Closely related to the jellyfish, these animals are asexual and reproduce through a budding process. A single bud called the pro-bud usually initiates the growth of the colony via fission.

“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, and each clone is specialized to a particular task,” explained Rebecca Helm, a University of North Carolina, Asheville, marine biologist who started a Twitter thread to explain what the animal is.

According to Helm, she has seen many quirky animals in her expeditions, but never one as goofy-looking as this one. In fact, this particular specimen is actually the biggest one that we’ve recorded so far, breaking the standards of how crazy deep-sea creatures can be.

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