New Species of Comb Jelly Disclosed By NOAA Scientists

A new species of Ctenophore, or comb jelly named as Duobrachium sparksae has been disclosed by the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries) research team. It was captured by a remotely-operated Deep Discoverer vehicle at the time of the underwater expedition by the NOAA.

Comb Jelly or ctenophore observed during the 2015 dive / Source – fisheries

The discovery of the species took place at the 2015 dive off the coast of Puerto Rico. For the confirmation of the species, the team needed high definition footage so it took time for the verification of their findings. The Deep Discoverer camera was able to give a clear optimistic view of the species and pick up various detailing over it. Scientists from the NOAA Fisheries Mike Ford and Allen Collins spotted the species and mentioned it as a new, fresh, and amazing discovery. The creature is estimated to be 6cm long having tentacles of about 30cm long.

The species is easily separable from all other ctenophore species as mentioned in the latest paper.

Check out the video of the confrontation with the newly disclosed Ctenophore.

Collins said, “It’s unique because we were able to describe a new species based entirely on high-definition video. The cameras on the Deep Discoverer robot can get high-resolution images and measure structures less than a millimeter. We don’t have the same microscopes as we would in a lab, but the video can give us enough information to understand the morphology in detail, such as the location of their reproductive parts and other aspects.”

The species were not harmed nor they were collected so the video is the only evidence of the existence of the species. Collins explained further “No physical samples were collected, so the videos are our only evidence of the species’ existence. “We didn’t have sample collection capabilities on the ROV at the time. Even if we had the equipment, there would have been very little time to process the animal because gelatinous animals don’t preserve very well; ctenophores are even worse than jellyfish in this regard. High-quality video and photography were crucial for describing this new species.”

The most attractive feature of the Duobrachium sparksae’s is its balloon-like body. The exploration took place around 3,900 meters (almost 2.5 miles) making three observational videos of the comb jelly under the sea. The most interesting feature found in the ctenophore is its long tentacles with some amazing movements. It moves like a hot air balloon that is attached to the seafloor maintaing an accurate altitude above the seafloor.

Comb jelly species resembling the hot air baloon / Image Source – fisheries

Mike said, “We’re not sure of their role in the ecosystem yet. We can consider that it serves similar roles to other ctenophores near the ocean floor and it also has some similarities to other ctenophores in open ocean areas. We saw the species three times in a relatively small area; hopefully, that means they’re not extremely rare.”

It is not known when a glimpse of these species would be visible again but the next part of this amazing finding would be collecting a sample of these new species.

Source – fisheries

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