A new study has uncovered rare sightings of giant ghost jellyfish: deep-sea creatures that look like alien UFOs with thick ribbons streaming down their undersides.
They were seen by cruise ship passengers who noticed other animals off the coast of Antarctica.
A giant ghost jellyfish (Stygiomedusa gigantea), one of the largest deep-sea invertebrate predators, greeted guests as they sailed on cruise operator Viking’s submarine in early 2022. Researchers estimate that the length of the jellyfish exceeded 16 feet (5.5 m). meters), one of them extends at least 33 feet (10 meters), according to a study published January 30 in the journal Polar Research.
Stranger-like giant ghost jellyfish discovered in cold waters off Antarctica https://t.co/obhAVWBWf4
— Live Science (@LiveScience) February 27, 2023
The study’s first author, Daniel Moore, first realized that guests were facing a giant ghost when he saw one image on a guest’s camera. Moore, a senior Viking scientist, said: “I immediately knew what it was and, given the rarity of the sightings, I was overwhelmed with excitement.”
Giant ghost jellyfish live in all oceans except the Arctic Ocean. However, since these secretive creatures usually swim deep below the surface, they are rarely seen by humans. A new study describes direct sightings of three different jellyfish taken while scuba diving off the Antarctic Peninsula.
Jellyfish have been seen at depths of 260 feet (80 meters), 285 feet (87 meters) and 920 feet (280 meters). Giant ghost jellyfish are mostly found below 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) but can usually be found in the upper Southern or Antarctic Ocean. It is not yet known why they are found in the relatively shallow waters around Antarctica.
Moore noted that one possible explanation is that jellyfish swim up to expose themselves to ultraviolet light, which will rid them of parasites. Another hypothesis put forward by Moore is that the deep waters flowing around Antarctica simply carry it up. Moore hopes that their observations will help to better understand the ghostly life of giant jellyfish.
The practice of cruise lines bringing passengers to Antarctica has generated some controversy. The US Coast Guard announced on February 2 that it has joined international partners to investigate four deaths and other injuries of US citizens on passenger ships in Antarctica between November 15 and December 1, 2022. Viking, after a large wave hit the ship.
The US Coast Guard describes Antarctica as a “uniquely high risk” environment and is committed to improving maritime safety and preventing similar incidents in the future. And the waters around Antarctica can be treacherous.
Source: Living Science
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