Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Crazy new jellyfish species discovered in the deep ocean

APRIL 29, 2016

by Brett Smith

While looking for new hydrothermal vents, mud volcanoes, subduction zones, and creatures in the deepest part of the ocean, the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer stumbled upon a surreal-looking jellyfish.

NOAA scientists said the jellyfish appears to belong to the genus Crossota, a group of jelliyfish known for not having an immobile polyp stage.

The video shows the jellyfish drifting motionless with its arms outstretched, and this could signal that it is an ambush predator. The NOAA team said the tentacles are likely lying in wait for an unsuspecting morsel of food to touch them. The red canals within the jelly fish appear to attach to the yellow sacs, which are likely gonads, the scientists said.

The ship is currently exploring the Enigma Seamount near the Marianas Trench, 2.3 miles beneath the Pacific Ocean’s surface.

While the trench is one of the most remote places on Earth, it is far from the most inhospitable. A 2013 study revealed microbes are thriving in the deepest parts of the trench.
The quantity of bacteria and other microbes found by the scientists was over double that found at a location virtually half as deep, the study said. The microbes were sustained by dead plants and fish that dropped into the deepest parts of the trench, supporting the idea those materials drop onto the trench´s steep sides, slip to the bottom and establish a kind of "hot spot" for microbes.

“It's surprising there was so much bacterial activity,” study team member Ronnie Glud, an aquatic biogeochemist at University of Southern Denmark, told ABC News Australia. “Normally life gets scarcer the deeper you go — but when you go very deep, more things start happening again. We find a world dominated by microbes that are adapted to function effectively at conditions highly inhospitable to most higher organisms.”

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