A scientific expedition exploring the submarine canyons near Australia's Ningaloo has found an estimated 150-foot, or about as tall as an 11-story building 'Siphonophore' which is likely to be the world’s longest animal ever recorded.

Siphonophores are marine organisms which are essentially gelatinous strings that can grow to 100 feet long. Essentially, Siphonophore is a floating colony of tiny individual zooids ( ~ an animal arising from another by budding or division) that clone themselves thousands of times into specialized bodies that string together to work as a team.

Interestingly, the giant organism was found by the flagship Remotely Operated Vehicle (RoV) robot of Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI), a non-profit private foundation focused on oceanography, founded in March 2009 by Eric Schmidt and Wendy Schmidt. Eric Schmidt was the CEO of Google from 2001 to 2011, executive chairman of Google from 2011 to 2015, and executive chairman of Alphabet Inc, from 2015 to 2017.

The institute has shared a breathtaking video clip on Twitter which shows the Apolemia that is basically a type of Siphonophore.








Using the underwater robot (RoV), SuBastian, SOI's scientists for the first time are able to explore deep sea canyons and coral reefs around Australia that have never been seen before. The footage and samples collected from the oceans that surround Australia will have important implications for the sustainability and protection of these underwater ecosystems—and for similar habitats worldwide that are in peril because of rising ocean temperatures and other environmental threats.











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It is hard to explain this siphonophore from #DeepCoralAdventure livestream without sounding like we are describing a beast out of a science-fiction novel... There are over 180 known species of gelatinous strings called siphonophores, and some can grow to 130 feet (40 m), longer than a blue whale, which is usually considered Earth's largest animal (however, even the biggest siphonophore's body isn’t much bigger around than a broomstick). But instead of growing as a single body like virtually every other animal, tiny individual siphonophores (zooids) clone themselves 1000’s of times over into half a dozen different types of specialized bodies, all strung together to work as a team. In short, despite different functions, all the individuals in colony are genetically identical! - “In a way these specialized bodies function as organs,” said marine biologist Stefan Siebert of @brown_university, who studies these glorious creatures with the help of @mbari_news. “Some move the colony, some feed for the colony, some take care of reproduction.” Whereas creatures like you and me have over millennia evolved different parts of our bodies to work as organs, siphonophores have evolved individual bodies themselves into organs. It’s a bit like your liver up and declaring independence from the rest of you, even though it can't go anywhere. - No matter body plan or hunting strategy, siphonophores pose an interesting question: What exactly is individuality? “The whole thing looks like one animal, but it’s many thousands of individuals which form an entity on a higher level,” said Siebert. “So it's a really tricky question. And what's a colony? Humans are colonies—we are colonies of single cells.” Of course, ants and bees form colonies as well. But what siphonophores have been up to for all these millions of years is another thing entirely. They’re individuals within individuals. - (Thanks to Matthew Simon over at @wired for this great description - check out his article online, where much of this info is edited from) - A more friendly description by #ArtistAtSea @AngelaRosen.artist: Siphonophores are made up of many individual hydrozoans who agree to pass time together 👫👭👬


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Additionally, up to 30 new underwater species were made by researchers from the Western Australian Museum aboard Schmidt Ocean Institute's research vessel Falkor.

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