Office workers around the world are becoming used to spending their workdays on video links. So too, it seems, are scientists. According to The Guardian, scientists on an expedition led by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have identified a new deep sea species using only high-definition underwater cameras for the very first time.
Officially known as Duobrachium sparksae, the blob-like creature is actually a new species of comb jelly. While the animal was originally found in 2015, in an underwater canyon northwest of Puerto Rico, the discovery has only recently been detailed in a research paper.
Amazingly, no physical specimens were collected of the strange creature in order to declare it a new species. The team from NOAA used a remote-controlled vehicle, known as Deep Discoverer, to take high-definition images of the comb jelly, at a depth of 3,900 metres below the surface.
Mike Ford, a NOAA Fisheries scientist, said “we collected high-definition video and described what we saw. We went through the historical knowledge of ctenophores and it seemed clear this was a new species and genus as well. We then worked to place it in the tree of life properly.”
Although they share similarities in appearance and name, these unique creatures are not close relatives of jellyfish. Despite some being just a few millimeters long, comb jellies are carnivores that eat small arthropods and swim using rows of hair-like structures on the surface of their bodies.
This new species caught the eye of researchers due to some unusual behaviour. Using two long tentacles, the comb jelly anchors itself to the seabed while bobbing along above like a hot air balloon.
Video identification has proved to be controversial in the past due to poor quality imagery, but Allen Collins, another NOAA scientist who worked on the expedition, said