This Deep-Sea Creature Looks Like An Underwater Fireworks Display


Madison Dapcevich


Madison Dapcevich

Freelance Writer and Fact-Checker

Madison is a freelance science reporter and full-time fact-checker based in the wild Rocky Mountains of western Montana.

Freelance Writer and Fact-Checker

The firework-like jellyfish is just one of many extraordinary creatures researchers have come across in the last three years. OET/NautilusLive

Researchers aboard the Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus rang in 2018 with their own version of fireworks.

Meet Halitrephes maasi, a jellyfish that resembles an underwater display of fireworks.


The crew captured the video via a remotely controlled deep-water vehicle called “Hercules” while looking for routine crab samples.

The frilled tentacles of the jelly came into view at 1,225 meters (4,019 feet) in the Revillagigedo Archipelago island chain located about 480 kilometers (300 miles) off Baja California, Mexico, on November 13.

While the jelly illuminates here in an impressive display, the invertebrate normally goes about its life in complete and utter darkness. Here, radial canals that move nutrients through the jelly's bell are reflecting the lights of the ROV "with bright splashes of yellow and pink". Check it out in the video below:

For this mission, the high-tech 64-meter (211-feet) vessel was exploring the deep reaches of the Revillagigedo Archipelago to discover underwater volcanoes that have erupted within the last 70 years.


"Our mission is pure ocean exploration, which means we often come across things we're not expecting to see," digital media coordinator Samantha Wishnak told IFLScience. "During this dive, our team was in the middle of collecting biological samples from the seafloor when this stunning jelly drifted by."

ROV Hercules uses its six thrusters to move in any direction, while its two arms collect samples and recover artifacts from the seafloor. The high-definition video shown here was streamed via a fiber-optic cable from the ROV’s main camera into a control room aboard the Nautilus, where pilots remotely control the submarines.

"As the pilots and scientists prepared the remotely-operated vehicles to collect samples, the video engineer was able to zoom in and capture footage of this rarely-seen Halitrephes jelly," said Wishnak. "It takes a team to get this footage out to the world!"

"The Nautilus team use a multibeam sonar system (mounted on the hull of the ship) to acquire data that produces maps of the seafloor," according to a press release provided to IFLScience. "Once the data is analyzed and areas of interest are identified, the team uses ROVs to collect video footage and a variety of biological, geological, chemical, and archaeological samples."


The team has made headlines before with footage capturing deep-sea creatures otherwise lost to us landlubbers. Take this stubby squid, for example, spotted off the coast of California at a depth of 900 meters (2,950 feet). Or check out this compilation of hydrothermal vents in the Galapagos Islands spanning 40 years.

The Nautilus is funded in part by the Ocean Exploration Trust and is going into its fourth year of exploration in the Eastern Pacific. Expeditions aim to explore the world’s oceans by going to places that have never been seen or are poorly understood, while also developing technologies that enable scientists to push the boundaries of ocean exploration.

The team’s next expedition launches in June 2018. You can daydream about joining the crew through their livestream


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  • firework jellyfish,

  • e/v nautilus,

  • baja