A new species of Ctenophores has just been discovered in a river in Puerto Rico.
These nasty, yet beautiful, creatures are known for their colorful and bright appearance. While they may be dangerous to other, smaller sea creatures, they aren’t likely to be hunting larger prey, such as humans, any time soon. This new species has never been seen before in the world, which is quite exciting.
Often referred to as comb jellies, Ctenophores are small creatures that inhabit multiple zones of the ocean all over the world. At a glance, they appear to be floating along in the current, eating larva and other small critters as they go. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. They do in fact have a purpose in mind and are propelling themselves through the water on small hairs, called cilia, which cover their bodies.
Contrary to what their names suggest, these Comb Jellies aren’t actually related to jellyfish at all. They are well known for their bright lights that cover the lengths of their bodies, which most people assume is bioluminescence. It’s not though; it’s actually caused by the cilia “combs” pulsating to let them move. These hairs scatter and diffract light into a beautiful array of colors.
New Species Discovery
It was back in 2015, that high definition footage of a seemingly rare new comb jelly was captured. Researchers knew instantly that it was special as it was so unique, like no other comb jelly they had ever seen. The camera was over 4,000 meters down at the time so live samples weren’t an option but the HD footage made up for that and has allowed for it to be studied in great detail over the last few years.
In fact, it was only due to the footage captured that researchers were able to positively identify this ctenophore as a new species. While some doubt the validity of video verification, many scientists are positive about their conclusion. Over 95% of the ocean is still unexplored so it’s very possible that there could be dozens more undiscovered species like this, just lurking down there waiting to be found. Due to the difficult nature of the ocean though, it could be many years before scientists get another look at this specific species.
Similar to other unexplored areas such as Antarctica, and the Amazon, the oceans may be harboring incredible secrets, countless new species, and who knows what else! This new ctenophore is just a small taster of what could be swimming around deep down, with the human race being entirely oblivious to it.