The Mariana Trench, located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Japan near Guam, has long been known as one of the deepest points on Earth, with its deepest crevice called the Challenger Deep sloping an incredible 10,994 meters below sea level (Lockhart). At such a great depth, exploration of this trench has been a slow process and in some cases nearly impossible. One would think that at such at depths this extreme the water in the Mariana Trench would be extremely cold, however; due to its location over shifting tectonic plates which produces hydrothermal vents that not only warm the water but release hydrogen sulfide and minerals that are introduced into the food web (“The Mariana Trench”). The trench is home to a vast variety of sea life, some of which are only to be found in this particular location in the ocean.
Upon a recent expedition spanning from April 20 to July 10, 2016, using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) equipped with HD cameras, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have seen first hand just what the Mariana Trench has to offer (Lockhart). With the ROV reaching depths up to 4,064 meters deep, scientists were able to see and explore farther than ever before (Lockhart). Several variations of unknown species including plants, fish and other sea creatures were discovered to coexist in the trench during this deep-sea exploration. One such newly discovered species is related to the hydromedusae jellyfish, thought to be of the Crossota genus (Ranosa).
Newly Discovered Jellyfish
This jellyfish was observed by scientists during the fourth dive of the exploration on April 24, 2016, at a depth of about 3,700 meters, in an eara know as “Enigma Seamount (Okeanos Explorer). The jellyfish has two sets of tentacles, one long and one short. It is believed that the long tentacles are used to shoot out and grab prey while the bell, the main “bubble” of the jellyfish, remains motionless, and then pass the prey to the short tentacles closer to the bell to consume the it (Ranosa). Scientists also noticed another distinguishing characteristic of this this hydromedusae jellyfish. The red radial canals, which are part of the circulatory system, are connected to a set of bright yellow gonads, which are the reproductive organs. This characteristic sets the newly discovered jellyfish apart from those previously discovered and studied. There are currently five other known species of Crossota jellyfish: Crossota alba, Crossota brunnea, Crossota millsea, Crossota norvegica and Crossota rufobrunnea. Crossota jellyfish are known as drifters, spending most of their existence floating at mid-level areas throughout multiple oceans.
Due to the recent discovery of this jellyfish species, details regarding its particular characteristics are slim at the moment. However, NOAA scientists are extremely excited by the prospect of further exploration and regard these newfound species to be proof that there is much more to be discovered in the blue mysterious depths of the ocean. The Mariana Trench offers insight into a variety of species living in extreme depths of the ocean, and the possibilities of new discoveries.
“Jellyfish.” Okeanos Explorer. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administartion, 5 May 2016. Web. 28 Sept. 2016.
Lockhart, Keely. “Scientists Unveil the Strange and Wonderful Creatures Living in the Mariana Trench.” The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 6 May 2016. Web. 28 Sept. 2016.
“The Mariana Trench – Exploration – Part 1.” The Mariana Trench. N.p., 2016. Web. 28 Sept. 2016.
Ranosa, Ted. “Discovery of New Jellyfish Species In Mariana Trench Proves There Is Much To Know About The World’s Oceans.” Tech Times. TechTimes Inc., 03 May 2016. Web. 28 Sept. 2016.