What a fantastically weird animal captured by the Nautilus – a remotely operated vehicle taking video and photos of the underwater conditions and whatever they find moving down there.
See and hear the scientists describe this bizarre colony of organisms operating as a single unit. The public hardly knows anything about siphonophores. Now YOU know.
This strange animal is a siphonophore, a relative of jellyfish. The most famous (infamous?) siphonophore is the portuguese man-of-war, but there are many species that live in the deep and are only seen on rare occasions. What’s amazing to me about this animal is not just its strange shape, but its color. I’ve seen red siphonophores like this, a couple orange, but never ever this strange purple-blue. It’s a shocking shade, and it makes me wonder what on earth a color like that is doing down so deep. Many deep-sea animals are red. Because there is no red light in the deep sea, very few animals can see red pigment (unless they make their own red light). In the deep sea, red looks like pitch black. But what about purple? Is there any benefit to being purple? Or is this just a side effect of something it eats or where it lives?
Answering these questions is difficult, because sightings of siphonophores like this one are pretty rare.
A siphonophore resembles a jellyfish and is of the same phylum, Cnidaria. They can be bioluminescent, colorful and HUGE. They also have stinging tentacles. It’s not surprising that out of context, most people would have no clue what this animal is. As we explore the oceans, we find lovely surprises like this.
You can follow the Nautilus and watch live as it continues on its expedition.