Although we haven't found any extraterrestrial life just yet, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) 10-week mission into the depths of the Mariana Trench highlights the fact that some of the creatures on our very own planet are just as strange as potential alien life. The administration recently discovered a unique deep-water jellyfish two miles below the ocean surface that possesses thin, spindly limbs and a strangely colored body.
The NOAA captured the footage using its "Deep Discoverer" remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) and used it to determine that the creature is a hydromedusa - a small type of jellyfish - that likely falls into the Crossota genus. Its thin, outstretched tentacles are used to trap and subdue prey as it waits for fish to swim by into its reach.
The unique creature possesses both long and short tentacles that extend from its gelatinous bell. When its tentacles are outstretched to capture prey, the bell does not move, an activity that the team believes is an indicator that the creature is in ambush mode. The NOAA team also believes that the yellow globules seen in the video are likely gonads, and the red filaments are what connects them to their body.
"Its morphology is quite different from other seamounts in the region, which generally have a flat top with steep, smooth sides radiating out into narrow ridges," they said. "By contrast, this one is more circular in form and the sides are much less smooth."
During other portions of the ROV dive, the team noticed numerous other strange organisms as well, including "small, rounded balls that looked like they had been constructed from sediment," which it believes could by single-celled amoeba species of marine sponges.
Deep-sea animals were few and far between, although the team did catch a glimpse of some strange creatures, including "stalked crinoids and primnoid corals, swimming polychaete worms, a cusk eel, Caulophacus sponges, cladhorizid sponges, a Munidopsis squat lobster, a beautiful hydrozoan jellyfish and at least two Nematocarcinus shrimp."
The ROV also collected numerous rock samples during its expedition, including one that looked volcanic due to its pebbly sediments that likely stemmed from currents. Prior to ascent, the ROV managed to collect two primnoid corals.