Giant ‘phantom jellyfish’ captures and eats prey with 33ft-long ‘mouth-arms’

A group of scientists have confirmed the rare sighting of a giant phantom jellyfish with 33ft-long mouth-arms after spotting it lurking in the deep waters in Monterey Bay, California.

Marine biologists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) were searching the waters with a remote submarine when it came across the jellyfish at a depth of 3,200 feet.

The jellyfish is more than 3.3ft across and uses its huge 33ft mouth-arms to capture and eat its prey deep underwater.

As reported by Live Science, the creature can propel itself through the darkest parts of the ocean with periodic pulses from its faintly-glowing head.

The first specimen of the giant phantom jellyfish was collected way back in 1899 but it took scientists 60 years later to determine it was a unique new species of jellyfish.

Despite being first found over a thousand years ago, scientists still know very little about the creature.

Even in a thousand dives using the vehicle, MBARI has only seen the creature nine times.

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In a statement, MBARI said: “Observations of Stygiomedusa gigantea (the giant phantom jellyfish) have helped illuminate its ecological role in the ocean’s depths.

“During an expedition to the Gulf of California, MBARI’s ROV Tiburon recorded a fish—the pelagic brotula (Thalassobathia pelagica)—alongside a giant phantom jelly.

“Researchers watched the brotula hover above the bell of its host and swim in and out of the jelly’s voluminous oral arms. The wide-open waters of the midnight zone offer little shelter, so many creatures find refuge in the gelatinous animals that are abundant in this environment.”

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Jellyfish are one of the most common creatures in the deep sea due to their bodies being able to survive the high pressures.

However, the studies on jellyfish are difficult, along with many fish lurking in the deep sea.

The MBARI said: “The challenges of accessing its deep-water habitat contribute to the relative scarcity of sightings for such a large and broadly distributed species.

“Historically, scientists relied on trawl nets to study deep-sea animals. These nets can be effective for studying hardy animals such as fishes, crustaceans, and squids, but jellies turn to gelatinous goo in trawl nets.”

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