Biology experts have finally solved the mystery of an unknown giant sea ‘monster’ that was caught on video 5,000 ft (1.5 km) below a nearby oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, according to British tabloid paper Metro.
In the six-and-a-half minute long video, which began as an inspection of the oil rig’s moorings, a strange gelatinous object is seen falling from the top of the cameraman’s view and then floats to the right of the screen. At first appearances it appears to resemble a large lump of seaweed or a plastic carrier bag, both of course unlikely due to their floating nature in bodies of water. The formless creature then disappears into the darkness of the Gulf’s waters. After a minute, the animal reappears and takes centre stage in front of the camera, revealing its entire form as though putting on a show. It then billows out, occupying nearly all the visible area. The mysterious organism remains in frame for more than five minutes before eventually slipping out of sight.
Marine biologists pored over the footage, shot in 2012, and also consulted historical records and scientific files in their bid to determine the species of the monster, which had some similarities to jellyfish, but has no tentacles, fins or even a head.
Biologists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Centre finally wrapped up the mystery by announcing that the Gulf monster was none other than a ‘placental jellyfish’, which they determined from observing the creature’s gonads in the video and the markings on its ‘sail’. The species can grow up to two feet wide and is normally found in the cooler waters of the north Atlantic, suggesting the Gulf monster may have been a stray washed into the area by strong currents.
The species is known by its Latin name “Deepstaria Reticulum” and is rarely sighted. This may also be the first time a jellyfish of this species has ever been caught on film. Also known as the “Deepstaria Enigmatica” it is “thought to be one of the largest invertebrate predators in the deep sea ecosystem,” according to the BBC. However its long, “paddle-like” arms do not have stinging tentacles like other jellyfish. The jellyfish has been seen by humans a total of 114 times since it was discovered by scientists 110 years ago, researchers told the BBC.
It belongs to the coelenterate (jellyfish) family Ulmaridae, and was first scientifically described in academic journals in 1967. The bell of this species is thin and wide and resembles a translucent, undulating sheet or lava lamp as the animal moves. Its surface is similar in visual texture and colour to that of an onion’s skin. They are usually found in Antarctic and near-Antarctic seas but have been spotted in waters near the United Kingdom, at depths of 829 to 1830 metres.