A strange-looking animal that researchers have described as a “party balloon with hanging pieces” has turned out to be a new kind of comb jelly.
The see-through beast, which is likely hermaphrodite – with both male and female sex organs – was first captured on video 2.5 miles underwater in Puerto Rico.
In the clip, taken by NOAA’s Deep Discoverer, the comb jelly slides through the water, dragging its pair of tentacles in its wake.
If we zoom in closer, the images show that the animal is round in shape and has small hair-like features on its tentacles that rotate.
Allen Collins, a NOAA fishery zoologist, said, “I thought, that’s so weird.
“It’s like a party balloon, only instead of having a string hanging down it has two little dangling pieces.”
Another NOAA fisheries scientist, Mike Ford, thought the animal was like a “hot air balloon” and could somehow be stuck to the sea bed.
He said: ‘The ctenophore has long tentacles and we have observed an interesting movement.
“It moved like a hot air balloon attached to the sea bed on two lines, holding a certain height above the sea bed.
‘We are not sure whether it is attached to the seabed.
“We did not observe any direct attachment during the dive, but it appears that the organism is touching the sea floor.”
The images were taken on April 10, 2015, but the comb jelly was not named as the new species and genus Duobrachium sparksae until 2020.