By Tia Ghose, Senior Writer | March 1, 2017 07:13am ET
An ethereal, 'cosmic' jellyfish was spotted in some of the deepest reaches of the ocean, hovering near a previously unexplored seamount.
The luminous sea creature, which may be a completely new species, was spotted by a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) roughly 9,800 feet (3,000 meters) below sea level in a remote region of the Pacific Ocean near American Samoa. The creature was discovered at the previously unexplored seamount, called Utu Seamount, by the members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) 2017 American Samoa Expedition.
After the dive, Allen Collins, an invertebrate zoologist with NOAA's National Systematics Lab, initially identified the creature as Benthocodon hyalinus. Still, there's a possibility that the jellyfish could be a species previously unknown to science, Collins said.
"It is potentially new. There really is no way to be definitive about it, though, because specimens would need to be observed under a microscope and using genetics," Collins told Live Science in an email.
The logic behind classing this creature as a separate species is that, while B. hyalinus typically has gonads — or sexual organs — distributed along all eight canals, this little creature has gonads extending along only the outer half of these canals, Collins added.