Who are siphonophores – deep-sea creatures that look like snakes?

(ORDO NEWS) —  For many, this will be an unexpected discovery, but until the second half of the 20th century, people did not know what kind of creatures live in the depths of the seas and oceans.

Much of what we know about them today, we owe to the French explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, who invented the modern scuba gear, made about a thousand dives and showed the beauty of the water depths in his documentaries.

But there really is something to see. An example is siphonophores, which are something similar to a giant snake or centipede.

These creatures, depending on the species, live at a depth of 600 to 2,300 meters, where they are under a lot of pressure. If you bring them to the surface, they do not withstand a sharp change in environmental conditions and die.

Therefore, they can only be observed with the help of deep-sea vehicles. Recently, a beautiful video with these creatures appeared on the Internet. I think this is a great opportunity to learn more interesting information about them.

Amazing animals of the water depths

In fact, each siphonophore is not one living being. In the course of many studies, it was found that this is a whole colony of many thousands of living creatures that are combined into one body. Generally speaking, these tiny creatures are hydroid drainers.

A collection of tiny organisms is called a coenosarcoma, and each individual organism is referred to as a zooid. At the moment, 160 species of siphonophores are known to exist, and almost all of them live in the waters of the tropical regions of our planet.

Who are siphonophores deep sea creatures that look like snakes 2The appearance of siphonophores varies from species to species. In the photo – a representative of the species Nanomia cara

An interesting fact: each colony of siphonophores can reach tens of meters in length. The largest colony of deep-sea creatures was 47 meters long – it was found off the coast of Australia in 2020.

The structure of the siphonophore

To understand what each siphonophore is, imagine a thread on which beads are planted. In the middle of each colony there is a tube that plays the role of a single digestive system. It is to this tube that the zooids mentioned above are attached.

As the “head” of siphonophores, a pneumatophore is used – an organ that is equipped with a gas cavity. This tank has a high concentration of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, which help the colony to regulate buoyancy and thus float in the water.

Also, siphonophores move with the help of swimming bells located below the pneumatophore. They move and regulate the position of the organism in the water space.

Who are siphonophores deep sea creatures that look like snakes 3Like many other deep-sea creatures, siphonophores have bioluminescence – the ability to glow in the dark

Attached to the alimentary tube, the zooids provide food capture and nutrition for the entire colony. Some of the tiny creatures are equipped with trapping threads up to 10 meters long, and this is not an exaggeration. Depending on the species, siphonophores reproduce either sexually or asexually.

Video with the longest animal in the world

Unfortunately, everything written above is all that can be said about these amazing creatures. As I said, if you get them to the surface, they die due to a sharp change in environmental conditions.

There are quite a few videos of these creatures on the Internet, but recently one of the most colorful of them was filmed by researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

To create such a video, they used a deep-sea robot equipped with several high-resolution cameras. But shooting a colorful video is not the main task of scientists – in the course of observations, they want to find out more information about how they move in the water.


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