Marine researchers have discovered a strange alien-like creature while exploring the underwater world found in the deepest ocean trench on Earth.
A team of scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) spotted the hydromedusa jellyfish during an expedition to the Mariana Trench in the Pacific. The sea creature was captured on film after it swam close to the surface of the ocean near the agency's research ship, the "Okeanos Explorer."
Based on the team's observations, this new jellyfish species shares similar features with those of Crossota genus, which are known to spend the majority of their existence gliding through the water.
The creature has two sets of short and long tentacles. The researchers speculate that, whenever the jellyfish keeps its long tentacles extended outward and its bell relatively motionless, it is a sign that it is about to attack unsuspecting prey.
Its bell also houses what appears to be a pair of bright yellow gonads that are connected using red radial canals.
Exploring the Mariana Trench
The discovery of the new jellyfish species helps support the idea that there are a lot more things people don't know about the Earth's oceans, making it important to carry out expeditions such as the one the crew of the Okeanos Explorer are conducting.
The NOAA researchers are currently conducting studies on the geology and deep-sea life found at the Mariana Archipelago. One of their goals is to explore the 1,500-mile long, 43-mile wide Marianas Trench, whose deepest point reaches about seven miles below the Pacific Ocean's surface.
To underscore the Mariana Trench's depth, the research team pointed out that, even if Mount Everest were to be placed inside the massive trench, its peak would still be more than a mile underwater.
In 2009, U.S. President George W. Bush declared the Marianas Trench a protected zone. This includes 155,000 square miles of the ocean and its underwater lands, which the NOAA is now studying to find out more about how to better protect and manage it.
A mineral-rich portion of the ocean located near the Mariana Archipelago and the marine national monument has been the subject of contention between countries such as China, Japan and Russia, all of which wish to mine the area.
However, the NOAA said that carrying out mining activities on this part of the Earth's crust could cause far-reaching consequences to the ocean's ecology.
According to the agency, the Pacific's deep sea floor is one of the least explored portions of the Earth and that there is not enough information available on the deep-sea animals that exist beyond the Prime Crust Zone (PCZ).
Despite covering over 70 percent of the Earth's surface and supporting a majority of its inhabitants, the world's oceans are still left largely unexplored. In fact, researchers have collected more information about Mars' surface than the depths of the Earth's oceans.