A Living 'Balloon on a String' Discovered in the Deepest Part of the Indian Ocean

Live Science | 4/18/2019 | Staff
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The depths of the Indian Ocean are home to some bizarre creatures — including one that looks like a balloon on a string.

Explorers captured a video of this gelatinous creature in a recent dive to the Java Trench, the bottommost part of the Indian Ocean. This dive was one of many in the Five Deeps Expedition, during which the crew aimed to reach the deepest part of all five of the world's oceans.


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Appendage - Tentacle - Something - Balloon - String

With its long appendage, "almost like a tentacle that holds onto something," it looked like a balloon on a string, he added.

After a literature search, Jamieson found a group in Japan that had described something similar about 20 years ago — a species of stalked ascidian or sea squirt. But there were key differences between the newly found creature and the one described in the literature — the latter had filaments coming off the top of its head, whereas this one doesn't, he said.

Probability - Species - Record - Creature - Meters

There's a "high probability" of this being a new species, since there's no record of such a creature that far down at about 6,500 meters (21,300 feet) he said.

This creature likely anchors itself to the seafloor with its long tentacle, perhaps to keep still in a seismically active seafloor, he said. (Trenches are "seismically active" because they are dips on the seafloor where one tectonic plate is pushed beneath another). As for why the tentacle is so long, Jamieson suggested it might help the creature filter feed up to 3.3 feet (1 meter) above the seafloor.

Parts - Oceans - Humans - Surprise - Science

Because the deepest parts of four out of the five oceans have never been visited by humans before, "it's not a big surprise to our science team...
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