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Take a Peek at the Mesmerizing “Cosmic Jellyfish”

NOAA’s research vessel Okeanos Explorer filmed this specimen of Rhopalonematid trachymedusa in the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa

"I shall call him Squishy, and he shall be mine." No, wait, that's Finding Nemo. (NOAA)
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Over the weekend, researcher on NOAA’s research vessel Okeanos Explorer captured video of a stunning jellyfish which they dubbed the “Cosmic Jellyfish” moving through the deep sea around American Samoa.

According to George Dvorsky at Gizmodo, the researchers found the jellyfish with a remotely operated vehicle while exploring the Utu Seamount in the National Marine Sanctuary. The species is not new to science. NOAA zoologist Allen Collins tells Dvorsky that it is a deep sea species known as Rhopalonematid trachymedusa.

The jellyfish appears to have two rows of tentacles, one row facing up and the other facing down. Its digestive system is bright red while its reproductive organs appear yellow. As it moves through the dark water, the creature looks like some sort of H.R. Giger-designed flying saucer.

According to NOAA, the researchers are conducting one of the first extensive explorations of the 13,581-square-mile marine sanctuary, which contains hydrothermal vents, deepwater coral reefs and some of the oldest and largest coral formations in the world, including "Big Momma," a 500-year-old, 20-foot-tall coral head. The exploration of the sanctuaries deep ocean regions will help researchers gain baseline information on the species and resources in the area and help them figure out how to best protect the area in the future.

The jellyfish is not the only incredible creature captured on film. The researchers also found a Venus flytrap anemone, beautiful brittle stars, and deep sea fish and corals.

It’s not the first time the Okeanos has wowed the world with a jellyfish. A glowing jelly found in the Mariana Trench last May lit up the internet, along with dozens of other crazy-looking sea creatures. Last March, the researchers discovered a new species of ghost octopus.

The mission to American Samoa will continue until April and will not doubt continue to highlight some of the stranger inhabitants of the deep.

About Jason Daley

Jason Daley is a Madison, Wisconsin-based writer specializing in natural history, science, travel, and the environment. His work has appeared in Discover, Popular Science, Outside, Men’s Journal, and other magazines.

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