HomeOutdoorsNewsIncredibly Rare ‘Phantom Jellyfish’ With 33-Foot Long ‘Mouth-Arms’ Spotted Off California Coast

Incredibly Rare ‘Phantom Jellyfish’ With 33-Foot Long ‘Mouth-Arms’ Spotted Off California Coast

by Shelby Scott
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(Photo by Hasan Ay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A remote camera exploring the ocean floor off the coast of California captured a rare photo of a massive “phantom jellyfish,” a creature boasting 33-foot long”mouth-arms.”

The New York Post reports the photo was taken at a depth of 3,200 feet in Monterey, CA. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute said in a statement after the photos went viral, “The giant phantom jelly was first collected in 1899. Since then, scientists have only encountered this animal about 100 times.”

What makes this particular jellyfish even more fascinating is that it’s considered one of the largest jellyfish in the world. While its arms are 33 feet long, it measures three feet across. And while photos of the massive creature are circulating online, much mystery surrounds this creature of the sea. The news outlet states this is large because its usual environment is relatively inaccessible.

The footage of the phantom jellyfish is also significant as, until now, scientists have not been able to observe these creatures up close. The institute explained that, in the past, experts used to haul in creatures like fish, crustaceans, and squids with tools called trawl nets in order to more closely observe them. Trawl nets, however, are useless on jellyfish.

The institute stated, “These nets can be useful for researching robust creatures like fish, crustaceans, and squids. But jellies disintegrate into gelatinous goo in trawl nets.”

As if jellyfish weren’t already fascinating enough, the outlet states these creatures, despite their squishy bodies, are fierce predators along the ocean floor. They manage to give more “robust” creatures, like squids and blue whales, major competition for food.

Deep Sea Jellyfish Deters Predators with Blood-Red Belly

Again, despite their squishy physique, jellyfish are fiercer than they appear. While the phantom jellyfish traps its prey with strange, 30-foot mouth-arms, another rare breed of jellyfish boasts a belly the color of blood, used to deter predators in a rather discomforting way.

Called the bloody-belly comb jelly, it’s an unusual relative of the common jellyfish. And while the color of its belly could potentially give its location away to predators, its brightly colored belly actually serves to deter predators.

Even more interesting, scientists believe the blood red of its belly helps it camouflage any bioluminescent light the fish it consumes emits. Further, these jelly creatures live at extreme depths of the ocean, their usual environment ranging anywhere between 984 and 9,842 feet. Like the phantom jellyfish, the gelatinous quality of its body, not to mention its brainlessness, allows it to occupy some of the deepest trenches of the ocean without issue.

George Matsumoto, a research specialist at the institute, said of the blood-red-bellied creatures, “We see them on most of our [remotely operated underwater vehicle] dives. So I would say they are relatively common in the Eastern Pacific.”

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