Strange jellies of the icy depths

By | September 1, 2009

Crossota millsaeNew details are emerging about the life-forms that survive in one of the world’s most inaccessible places.

Scientists have published descriptions of a range of jelly-like animals that inhabit the deep oceans of the Arctic.

The animals were originally filmed and photographed during a series of submersible dives in 2005.

One of the biggest surprises is that one of the most common animals in the Arctic deep sea is a type of jellyfish that is completely new to science.

The deep Arctic ocean is isolated from much of the water elsewhere on the globe.

In pictures: Icy jellies

One area, known as the Canadian Basin, is particularly cut off by deep-sea ridges. These huge barriers can isolate any species there from other deep-water animals. …

“Probably the single most interesting discovery was a new species of a small blue jellyfish, from a group called the Narcomedusae,” says Dr Raskoff.

“This group has several interesting features that set them apart from typical jellyfish, such as the fact that they hold their tentacles over their bell as they swim.”

Most jellyfish let their tentacles drift in the water behind them, but the new species holds its tentacles out in front, perhaps enabling it to better catch prey.

The new species is so unusual that it has been classified within its own genus, and will be formally described later this year.

“It was also the third most common jellyfish found on the cruise, which is really surprising when you think about the fact that even the most common species in the area can be totally new and unexpected species,” says Dr Raskoff.

via BBC – Earth News – Strange jellies of the icy depths.

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