A blood-red, never-before-seen species of jellyfish has been spotted off the coast of Newport, Rhode Island. During an ambitious deep-ocean expedition, researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) discovered the crimson creature minding its own business almost 700 meters (2,300 feet) below sea level.
The jelly, which is yet to be named, was discovered during a deep-water dive on July 28 and was filmed by the team as part of NOAA’s North Atlantic Stepping Stones expedition. The expedition also discovered various other animals, including ctenophores (also known as comb jellies), cnidarians, crustaceans, and Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes). The team “saw several undescribed families and potential new species,” Quinn Girasek, a NOAA intern who was part of the expedition as a “scientist from shore” said in a statement.
Among these potentially novel species is our mysterious new friend, the red jelly. It's thought to belong to the genus Poralia, which is currently a monotypic genus – it contains only one species, Poralia rufescens. P. rufescens is found in many of the world's deep oceans, though most often in the Caribbean. However, the researchers believe that their new discovery could be a previously undescribed species – a second blood-red jellyfish to join the Poralia family.
“It appears that the jellyfish in the video ... has many more tentacles than seen in the described Poralia rufescens, leading scientists to believe the jellyfish ... is an undescribed species,” NOAA told McClatchy News.
“The jellyfish ... also seemed to have nematocyst warts on the exumbrella (the upper part or outside of the jellyfish’s bell) that probably function both for defense but also to trap prey. The radial canals of this genus often branch randomly, which is not usual for other related jellyfish.”
The jellyfish was discovered on dive 20 of a 25-dive expedition which spanned from late June to late July of this year. Earlier in the expedition, the team came across a “real-life SpongeBob and Patrick” – a sea sponge hanging out with a starfish 1,885 meters (6,184 feet) underwater.