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Scientists Captured Footage of the Rare—and Very Large—Phantom Jellyfish

Michele Debczak
Jellyfish floating in dark water.
Jellyfish floating in dark water. / alexcalin/iStock via Getty Images
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For an idea of what life might look like on other planets, take a tour of the deep ocean. The bottom of the sea is filled with bizarre animals that scientists know little to nothing about. As Gizmodo reports, one of the more mysterious—and more terrifying—residents of the ocean's so-called "midnight zone" was recently caught on camera. You can get a rare look at the giant phantom jellyfish in the video below.

Last month, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) captured this footage in the California bay that shares its name. It shows what looks to be a gelatinous flying saucer with enormous black ribbons streaming from the bottom of it. The creature is actually a phantom jellyfish, an elusive species of jelly that's been documented only around 100 times since it was discovered in 1899. It's one of the larger jellyfish known to science, with a 3-foot-wide bell and 10-foot-long tentacles. The biggest of the jellies can grow tentacles up to 33 feet long. The phantom jellyfish is also known for its dark coloring, which blends in perfectly with its sun-starved environment.

MBARI has spotted the phantom jellyfish just nine times after doing thousands of dives. Despite their reputation for being scarce, the species' range is widespread. Phantom jellies live in every ocean outside the Arctic. Their preferred depth is the midnight zone, the layer of the ocean between 3300 and 13,000 feet deep where no sunlight can reach. This particular jellyfish was recorded at the relatively shallow depth of 3200 feet beneath Monetary Bay.

Using a remote-operated vehicle, researchers at MBARI have been able to study parts of undersea life humans rarely get to see. Generally, the deeper they go, the more unsettling the footage becomes. After watching the phantom jellyfish in action, check out this video of a spooky green-eyed squid taken by MBARI in 2016.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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