Rare Giant Jellyfish Caught on Video

From Drazen and Robinson

From Drazen and Robinson

New spectacular video of a enigmatic jellyfish is going viral across the internet (see below).  Although first collected in 1901 and scientifically described in 1910, the giant jellyfish,Stygiomedusa gigantea, is rarely collected or seen.  A paper in 2010 by Mark Benfield and William Graham found that only 110 observations of the species had been made from 1899 to 2009.  However while rare, Stygiomedusa gigantea is found in every ocean except the Arctic.  The lack of this large jelly in the Arctic likely reflects a lack of deep-sea exploration there as opposed to a true absence.

This jelly is likely one of the largest invertebrate predators currently in the ocean.  Current size estimates put the bell diameter around 0.5-0.75 meters (1.6-2.5 feet). The species actually does not have tentacles as we associate with other jellyfish. Instead what you see dangling down are oral lobes which can reach ~10 meters (32.8 feet) in length.  Benfield and Graham found two individuals in the Gulf of Mexico clinging to underwater structures and hypothesized the jelly uses its long oral lobes to hold on to and trap prey.

Although not all fish appear to be simply food for this giant jelly.  Drazen and Robison found that the small fish Thalassobathia pelagica swimming continuously swimming around the bell of Stygiomedusa gigantea. Interestingly, nematocysts of another jelly, the common moon jelly, could sting the fish but it was unharmed by the those of S. gigantea.

The latest video. I’m not sure what is up with the music.

Older video

Dr. M (1801 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (http://deepseanews.com/), a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

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