Mysterious Siphonophore discoveredDate: 10 April 2020 Tags: Biodiversity
A giant siphonophore, Apolemia, was recorded off the coast of Western Australia during the Ningaloo Canyons expedition.
Siphonophores are marine organisms which are essentially gelatinous strings that can grow to 100 feet long.
Siphonophores feed on tiny crustaceans, such as copepods, fish, and even other siphonophores. Apolemia is a genus of the siphonophore.
The Apolemia siphonophore featured in the video is addressed as possibly the “largest-ever recorded” specimen.
The 175 species of siphonophores that make up Siphonophorae are each, in actuality, made up of an enormous colony of “zooids,” which themselves are individual animals.
These zooids, or “drones,” as they’re sometimes called, work together as a massive team to keep any given siphonophore alive and moving. And while all of a siphonophore’s zooids share identical DNA, they still mutate to perform very different functions.
Like any other animal, siphonophores start off with a single fertilized egg. And this egg develops into a small larva, and at some point this larva will develop its first tentacle, and it has a mouth opening by then.
Siphonophores have along the stem one long axon, which probably propagates signals from one end of the colony to the other. But how they coordinate all this and how the whole colony appears to act as an animal, it's really not well understood.