Scientists on a research vessel off Western Australia discovered what looks like a giant mass of string but is actually a living creature. The Apolemia is a type of siphonophore, which are deep-sea predators related to jellyfish and corals that use stinging cells to catch prey.
The researchers cannot determine exactly how long the creature is, but they used lasers to determine that its outer ring is approximately 154 feet long, which could make the siphonophore the longest animal ever recorded.
It takes a long time for life to grow at near-freezing temperatures in the deep sea, so the siphonophore’s size could indicate that it is tens or hundreds of years old. According to Rebecca Helm, who runs a lab that studies jellyfish at the University of North Carolina, the creature is hunting in a “galaxy-like spiral” by using certain clones to catch and digest prey, which sends nutrients through the entire colony.
The following video was taken at a depth of 631 meters.