Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

World’s ‘Longest Animal’ Discovered in Australia’s Deep Ocean

Animals

Underwater explorers have videoed a strange and record-breaking organism in a deep ocean canyon off Australia.


The string-like creature, which was introduced to the internet by the Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI) on Twitter April 6, is estimated to have an outer ring 154 feet long — the size of an 11-story building — and a possible total length of more than 390 feet, Newsweek reported.

"We think it's the longest animal recorded to date," SOI director of marine communications Carlie Wiener told USA TODAY.

But the creature isn't, strictly speaking, one animal. Instead, it's a genus of siphonophore called Apolemia, as Live Science explained:

Every individual siphonophore is made up of many little "zooids," which each live lives that are more similar to animals we're used to talking about, albeit always connected to the larger colony. Zooids are born axsexually, and each one performs a function for the siphonophore's larger body, according to a research article published in the journal Developmental Dynamics in 2005. Linked together in long chains, the colonies were already known to reach lengths of up to 130 feet (40 m) according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium — though each siphonophore is only about as thick as a broomstick.

This siphonophore was videoed as part of a month-long expedition of deep sea canyons off Western Australia's Nigaloo coast undertaken by Western Australian Museum researchers on board SOI's research vessel Falkor, SOI said in a press release. In addition to the siphonophore, the researchers also discovered as many as 30 new species of marine life.

"There is so much we don't know about the deep sea, and there are countless species never before seen," SOI co-founder Wendy Schmidt said in the press release. "Our planet is deeply interconnected – what happens in the deep sea impacts life on land–and vice versa. This research is vital to advance our understanding of that connection – and the importance of protecting these fragile ecosystems. The Ningaloo Canyons are just one of many vast underwater wonders we are about to discover that can help us better understand our planet."

Rebecca Helm, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina Asheville who was not involved with the expedition, explained on Twitter why the siphonophore was so remarkable.

She said she had seen siphonophores of around 20 centimeters to a meter (approximately eight to 39 inches), but never anything this large, and that it was hunting in a remarkable way, by making itself into a spiral to catch prey.

"I've gone on numerous expeditions and have never, EVER, seen anything like this," she wrote.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A fire in Greenland on July 10. Zombie fires smolder underground for months, notably in dense peatlands, and then flare-up when it grows warmer and drier. NASA

By Mark Kaufman

Some fires won't die.

They survive underground during the winter and then reemerge the following spring, as documented in places like Alaska. They're called "overwintering," "holdover," or "zombie" fires, and they may have now awoken in the Arctic Circle — a fast-warming region that experienced unprecedented fires in 2019. The European Union's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service is now watching these fires, via satellite.

Read More Show Less
Mourners after a mass burial of coronavirus victims in Brazil, which now has the world's second largest outbreak after the U.S. Andre Coelho / Getty Images

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases passed six million Sunday, even as many countries begin to emerge from strict lockdowns.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Daniel Yetman

Bleach and vinegar are common household cleaners used to disinfect surfaces, cut through grime, and get rid of stains. Even though many people have both these cleaners in their homes, mixing them together is potentially dangerous and should be avoided.

Read More Show Less
During a protest action on May 30 in North Rhine-Westphalia, Datteln in front of the site of the Datteln 4 coal-fired power plant, Greenpeace activists projected the lettering: "Climate crisis - Made in Germany" onto the cooling tower. Guido Kirchner / picture alliance / Getty Images

Around 500 climate activists on Saturday gathered outside the new Datteln 4 coal power plant in Germany's Ruhr region, to protest against its opening.

Read More Show Less
Dr. Mark Brunswick (2R), Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Quality, walks through the lab at Sorrento Therapeutics in San Diego, California on May 22. ARIANA DREHSLER / AFP / Getty Images

By Julia Ries

Around the world, there have been several cases of people recovering from COVID-19 only to later test positive again and appear to have another infection.

Read More Show Less

By Samantha Hepburn

In the expansion of its iron ore mine in Western Pilbara, Rio Tinto blasted the Juukan Gorge 1 and 2 — Aboriginal rock shelters dating back 46,000 years. These sites had deep historical and cultural significance.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Meadow Lake wind farm in Indiana. Anthony / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Tara Lohan

The first official tallies are in: Coronavirus-related shutdowns helped slash daily global emissions of carbon dioxide by 14 percent in April. But the drop won't last, and experts estimate that annual emissions of the greenhouse gas are likely to fall only about 7 percent this year.

Read More Show Less