A mysterious creature called ‘floating city’ is seen in a rare sighting

The population of extremely rare creatures of ‘floating city’ formed by multiple smaller organisms is seen in shallow waters off the coast of Australia

  • The benthic siphonophore is made up of many smaller organisms that work together
  • Normally it is believed that they live around 1,000 feet (3,000 m) underwater
  • Little is known about this mysterious creature, since it is rarely seen or studied
  • Scientists saw it on the Australian coast in shallow water in an unusual find

A creature so rare that it only has a few sightings recorded worldwide has been captured by the camera by stunned scientists.

The benthic siphonophore, apparently a single animal, is actually a “floating city” of many smaller organisms that work together.

It is seen so rarely that there is almost no information for the creature, which is related to corals and jellyfish and is believed to live at depths of up to 10,000 feet (3,000 m).

The scientists stumbled upon the rare animal after tracking through shallow waters off the coast of Australia with submerged chambers.

The benthic siphonophore, apparently a single animal, is actually a 'floating city' of many smaller organisms that work together (pictured)

The benthic siphonophore, apparently a single animal, is actually a ‘floating city’ of many smaller organisms that work together (pictured)

The animal is extremely rare and fragile with only a handful of sightings. It is rarely seen that its ecology is almost unknown, although it is believed that it has its home at depths of up to 10,000 feet

The animal is extremely rare and fragile with only a handful of sightings. It is rarely seen that its ecology is almost unknown, although it is believed that it has its home at depths of up to 10,000 feet

The animal is extremely rare and fragile with only a handful of sightings. It is rarely seen that its ecology is almost unknown, although it is believed that it has its home at depths of up to 10,000 feet

WHAT IS A BENEFICI SYPHONOPHORE?

The creature that lives in the sea belongs to the order Siphonophorae, the same as the famous Portugeuse Man O War.

The creatures are extremely fragile, difficult to collect and, therefore, poorly studied.

There are only a few records worldwide, so its ecology remains largely unknown.

They are usually found in deep waters up to about 10,000 feet (3000 m).

Siphonophores use their tentacles to anchor themselves to the seabed and trap the passing plankton.

Now a team from the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences has found a population of creatures in shallow water.

The crew had been towing a video camera through the waters of Kimberley Marine Park in Western Australia when they made the monumental discovery.

The expedition leader, Dr. Karen Miller, said: ‘We were conducting towed video surveys to characterize the biodiversity of the seabed when we noticed many of those that looked like “pom poms.”

‘On closer inspection of high-resolution images, we realized that what we were seeing were benthic siphonophores fields.

‘These creatures are usually found in deep waters of up to 3000m, and are rarely seen; that’s why our observation at depths of 100 m to 150 m is so exciting. ‘

The smaller organisms that form a siphonophore, called zooids, fulfill different functions, some specialized in swimming, some in food and others in reproduction.

Most zoos are so specialized that they lack the ability to survive on their own.

There are 188 types of siphonophores, including the notorious and sometimes deadly Portuguese man of war.

A team from the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences has found a population of creatures in shallow water. The crew had been towing a video camera through the waters of Kimberley Marine Park in Western Australia

A team from the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences has found a population of creatures in shallow water. The crew had been towing a video camera through the waters of Kimberley Marine Park in Western Australia

A team from the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences has found a population of creatures in shallow water. The crew had been towing a video camera through the waters of Kimberley Marine Park in Western Australia

Rodalidos are a variety of siphonophores that are tied to the seabed with their tentacles, while their bodies float up like a balloon (pictured)

Rodalidos are a variety of siphonophores that are tied to the seabed with their tentacles, while their bodies float up like a balloon (pictured)

Rodalidos are a variety of siphonophores that are tied to the seabed with their tentacles, while their bodies float up like a balloon (pictured)

Experts have tentatively identified the newly discovered population as a kind of Archangelopsis, part of the rhodidae family, according to the footage (pictured)

Experts have tentatively identified the newly discovered population as a kind of Archangelopsis, part of the rhodidae family, according to the footage (pictured)

Experts have tentatively identified the newly discovered population as a kind of Archangelopsis, part of the rhodidae family, according to the footage (pictured)

Experts have tentatively identified the newly discovered population as a species of Archangelopsis, part of the rhodidae family.

Rodalidos are a variety of siphonophores that are tied to the seabed with their tentacles, while their bodies float like a balloon.

Dr. Miller said: ‘We have been working with an international taxonomist and we believe that these siphonophores are probably a kind of Archangelopsis.

‘However, they are very difficult to identify only with images and videos.

“To properly identify this species, we will have to collect specimens and work with international taxonomists to determine if it is a new species, or one that is known from other oceans.”

Collecting samples is not an easy task. The creatures are very fragile and capturing them will require specialized equipment.

Meanwhile, AIMS researchers will be alert to more benthic siphonophores in marine parks in Australia.

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