Ultra-Rare ‘Giant Phantom Jellyfish’ Observed Deep in the Ocean

In November of this year researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) observed an ultra-rare “giant phantom” jellyfish. The giant phantom jelly, which is on display in the video below, is quite stunning. Even though it couldn’t actually stun you as its—30-foot-long—”mouth arms” are just there to trap prey rather than sting them.

MBARI recently posted the video of the giant phantom jellyfish to its YouTube channel. The research institute notes researchers were exploring the ocean off the coast of Monterey Bay, California using a remote-operated submarine when they eyed the creature. The submarine came across the aquatic alien at about 3,200 feet below sea level.

“This ghostly giant is a rare sight,” MBARI notes in the video’s description. “The bell of this deep-sea denizen is more than [3.3 feet] across and trails four ribbon-like oral (or mouth) arms that can grow more than [33 feet] in length.”

A giant phantom jelly swimming through the dark depths of Monterey Bay.

Aside from its incredible size, the giant phantom jellyfish—or Stygiomedusa gigantea—also has a bizarre, mesmerizing aesthetic and way of moving. Even relative to other weird deep-sea jellies we’ve seen before. (And there have been a lot of those.) Its bulbous bell (a.k.a. its umbrella-like head) appears to glow like a dimly lit orange gum drop. And from above, the creature looks like an undulating top hat surrounded by four flowing scarves.

Speaking of which, the giant phantom jelly uses its “mouth arms” to entrap prey and subsequently reel them up into its mouth. Which is not uncommon at all for jellyfish, but, again, look at this thing. The fear factor alone probably kills off prey before they land in the jellyfish’s mouth. Which, incidentally, is also its anus!

A giant phantom jelly swimming through the dark depths of Monterey Bay.

As for rarity the giant phantom jelly is basically the Sasquatch of the sea. Kind of. Explorers have spotted the ghostly jelly before, but only 110 times in the last 100 years. This sparse record of observation is especially strange considering the jelly’s near worldwide distribution. Which really makes us wonder: Where are these things hiding all the time? And are we sure they aren’t preparing for an invasion?

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