WASHINGTON — For the first time ever, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, have this week formally identified a new species of undersea creature based solely on high-definition video footage captured at the bottom of the ocean.
Duobrachium sparksae — a strange, gelatinous species of ctenophore, was encountered by a remotely operated submersible during a dive off the coast of Puerto Rico in 2015.
The creature has not been seen again and might not be encountered again for centuries, says NOAA marine biologist Allen Collins.
The rare animal was found almost 4km deep on a deep-sea shelf called the Aricebo amphitheater.
Its body is around 6 centimeters long, while its tentacles are around 30 centimeters long.
The creature is carnivorous and feeds on small animals and insects.
Its gelatinous body is transparent and contains small brushes or cilia that reflect light when they pulsate, making the animal look like a living neon light show.
In the short time that scientists observed the three individuals, one of them used its tentacles to anchor it to the sea floor below it.