The image above may appear to show an immense filament floating peacefully through the depths of the ocean. But the truth is that what the scene shows is a gigantic marine organism in a position to catch careless prey that approach it – and it is possibly one of the most colossal organisms of this type ever found by scientists.
Giant from the depths
We refer to the creature in the image as an organism because, instead of being just one animal, what the scene shows consists of a colony composed of millions and millions of clones. The organism, known as a siphonophore, belongs to the Apolemiidae family and was spotted in deep waters in Western Australia during a scientific expedition to the Ningaloo Canyons.
According to the scientists who came across the organism, only the outermost “ring” probably measured more than 45 meters and the entire siphonophore, more than 120 meters in length. These creatures are not uncommon at all, but it is certainly quite unusual to find such gigantic specimens. Check out the video below:
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
As we mentioned earlier, the scientists explained that the siphonophore in the above sequence was positioned to capture their lunch – as would be, for example, creatures like sea slugs – and the interesting thing is that the colony, despite being composed of millions of interconnected clones , has individuals with dozens of different functions.
Each variety has a specific function in the colony and, while there may be individuals with the ability to activate cells that cause them to change color to attract prey, for example, others are busy reproducing, locomotion of the organism and even have them tentacles covered by cells containing toxins that can be injected to kill animals that will serve to feed the entire colony. It is more or less as if each group functions as an organ of a body.