This post could go several ways. I could say, wow, the ocean is amazing. Or maybe I could start by saying I hope you didn’t plan on sleeping tonight. This is because the giant phantom jelly recorded by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute is a bit of a Rorschach test, one that can cause awe and horror because, well, I mean, look at it.
We can start with the points in support of the fact that the giant phantom jellyfish is a cool jelly. The giant phantom jelly has been seen in the wild about 100 times since humans first discovered it in 1899. This is the ninth encounter MBARI researchers have had with it despite thousands of remote-controlled dives.
This is an impressive stealth record considering that it lives in all ocean basins except the Arctic. Of course, that is also the reason for the terror. As far as I know, this jellyfish could drag me into the depths the next time I visit Coney Island.
Wait, I’m sorry to be away from you. Cool facts, cool facts, cool facts. All right. OK. So, this jellyfish also lives in what is known as the “midnight zone”, a location in a water column that is not exactly a twilight zone or an abyss. It is a sweet spot between 3,300 and 13,000 feet (1,000 to 4,000 feet) below the surface. No sunlight reaches this depth of the ocean, which is genuinely frightening to think in the context of a ghostly jellyfish in the depths of the ocean where no one could hear you screaming as you crawled into the dark depths.
Damn, I did it again. My focus is usually better than this. We are putting this back on track with amazing facts about jelly. The giant phantom jellyfish justifies the first part of its name. We are talking about tentacles of 10 feet (3 meters) and bells of 3 feet (1 meter). It’s not a big lion’s mane jelly, which with their 120 feet (37 meters) is a tangle of tentacles.
But then, a plume of 10-foot tentacles that look like strips of paper is enough to wrap around a human body, while a 3-foot bell can easily hold a human head, slowly devouring flesh until only the bones remain to wander into the abyss where bizarre creatures he would pick them up to catch that little food for life.
I’m sorry, I really don’t know why this is so hard for me. As someone who loves nature, this should be easy. A piece of cake, really. MBARI researchers noticed that the fish were swimming near the jelly. Which, OK, you see. It is nice! The midnight zone offers little shelter for sea creatures. The giant phantom jellyfish offers the shape of a blanket, allowing smaller fish to hide from larger predators. In 2003, MBARI’s ROV recorded a shot of an eel-like fish known as a brotula with, the researchers wrote, “belly on jelly.” What an incredibly wonderful phrase twist.
We are on the way. Let’s see what else we have. Ah yes, the hands of a giant phantom jelly act like a mouth. OK, I’m sorry it’s just a direct action horror movie. I’m out.
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