Forget space: the oceans are (for now) the real frontier. Even after centuries of exploration, we are still only scratching the surface of what lives in the deep sea. The sea depths are by definition places with little light, full of sea beds where fish and other monstrous animals, giants or other abyssal creatures live.
The latest, very recent underwater expedition off the coast of Western Australia has discovered Ben 30 new species as well as what may be the longest animal ever recorded.
The expedition was led by scientists from the institutes Western Australian Museum, Curtin University, Geoscience Australia, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Schmidt Ocean Institute.
Over the course of 20 dives and 180 hours of observation, the team explored Ningaloo canyons in the Indian Ocean to a depth of 4.500 meters.
With the robot called ROV SuBastian, the team documented a wide range of creatures in the oceans. Some appear to be brand new species: in a surprising research session, the ROV spotted what really looks like an alien animal. It is a giant, bright red hydroid that far exceeded one meter in length.
The longest animal ever recorded in the deep sea
And obviously among the new species discovered there is also a new specimen of apolemia, which the team estimates to be up to 47 meters long. This would make it the longest animal ever recorded: by comparison, the longest blue whale and the longest snakes both reach “just” 30 meters.
Apolemia is a siphonophora, which is essentially a floating colony in the depths of the sea, made up of tiny creatures called zooids. But what's particularly fascinating about siphonophores is that these zooids act almost like cells in a larger organism. They have specialized functions such as capturing and digesting food, reproduction and propulsion.
Many of the sea expedition's abyssal discoveries have been recovered and will be exhibited in the Western Australian Museum. All data relating to observations and collections are publicly available for study by scientists.
Some of the highlights can be seen in the video here: https://youtu.be/e_PyW3XHrw0
Photos: Schmidt Ocean Institute.