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An undulating ribbon of silver surprised divers near northern New Zealand in October — but not so much that they couldn't get it on video.
The resulting film shows a floating "feather boa" of the sea, properly known as a pyrosome. The 26-foot-long (8 meters) tube is not a single creature, according to The Washington Post, but rather a colony of tiny creatures called tunicates.
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This 26-foot-long (8 meters) tube is not a single creature, but rather a colony of tiny creatures called tunicates.
Tunicates can be either free-floating or anchored to the seafloor. Either way, they filter feed on plankton. Pyrosomes can be made of different species of tunicates, but large ones are often formed by a variety called Pyrosoma spinosum, which also emit a gentle bioluminescent glow.
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Hathaway told The Post he and his friend Andrew Buttle ran across the colonial creature while shooting underwater footage near White Island, New Zealand, on Oct. 25. Buttle's family owns the island, which is also known as Whakaari, but it is open to public tours.
The pyrosome was below Hathaway on the ocean floor when he first spotted it, he said, and he moved quickly to train his video camera on the colony.
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"I know nature waits for nobody, and I couldn't let this opportunity pass me by," he told The Post.
Each tiny tunicate that makes up the giant pyrosome looks like a simple white rod, though they are in fact complex: these animals have...
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