Gather around everybody, ’cause it’s time for another entry into our notebook, Surreal Creatures from the Lightless Depths of the Ocean. This time around, we’re peering at the Translucent Deepstaria Jelly, which looks kind of like the ghost of a plastic bag lined with a network of vessels. Oh, and there’s also a little isopod captured inside of this Deepstaria that’s blood red and creepy as heck.
Video of the Translucent Deepstaria was recently posted to YouTube by the crew of the research vessel, E/V Nautilus. The E/V Nautilus, which has been cranking out videos of some truly bizarre underwater creatures for years now — check out this googly eyed Stubby Squid, for example — is currently roaming around the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument (or PRINMM). PRINMM encompasses a swathe of ocean west of Hawaii, and contains unincorporated U.S. Pacific Island territories.
As far as the ghost-bag you’re looking at in the video above, its binomial name is Deepstaria enigmatica, and an enigma it most certainly is. This incredibly bizarre jellyfish doesn’t have stinging tentacles like a normal jellyfish, but instead, an expansive open membrane that looks like an undulating, see-through bell. That bell, which can expand up to four feet across, is used to capture its prey.
This translucent Deepstaria jelly unfurled as it whorled and shapeshifted in currents from ROV Hercules’ thrusters. See its red resident isopod hanging on for the ride?
— E/V Nautilus (@EVNautilus) September 4, 2019
Speaking of which, present in this particular Deepstaria is a living isopod that may have been lunch at one point, but is now an unwelcome guest. Or at least that seems to be the E/V Nautilus researchers’ best guess. The Deepstaria is extremely mysterious (duh), and it’s unclear what type of relationship exists between the isopod and its deep sea jelly. Regardless of whether it’s a symbiotic or parasitic relationship, one thing is certain: We’re very glad this creature lurks in the depths of the ocean and nowhere near the beach.
What do you think of this Deepstaria enigmatica? Are you enamored with its fluid, pulsating movements or totally yucked out by the fact that it’s housing a little clawing crustacean? Let us know your thoughts in the dark depths of the comments!