Here’s a sight that’s probably never been caught on camera before: the bloody-belly comb jelly in the middle of a jelly dump.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium posted the footage on its Twitter feed this week, noting that the jelly’s poops actually sparkle.
“Move over, unicorns,” the organization wrote in a followup tweet:
The bloody-belly comb jelly, which is a ctenophore and not a true jelly, is featured in the aquarium’s new exhibition, Into the Deep.
“Ironically, at the depths where the bloody-belly lives, it’s nearly invisible to predators,” the aquarium noted on its website. “In the darkness of the deep sea, animals that are red appear black and blend into the dark background.”
Since the bloody-belly comb jelly’s prey can be bioluminescent, that blood-red gut hides what it ate, thus hiding the jelly, too.
“A predator with a glowing gut could easily become prey,” the website said.
George Matsumoto, the marine biologist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) who discovered the bloody-belly comb jelly in 2003, told the Mercury News that he didn’t think it could ever be displayed as it would melt when collected.
“I never had an intact specimen. I never saw it under a microscope,” he said. “It was so sensitive to temperature change, I thought it couldn’t be displayed.”
As a result, he estimated that only two dozen people had observed the bloody-belly comb jelly while it was alive ― until now. And if they’re lucky, they might even see it release sparkly unicorn poops.
The aquarium posted the footage on its YouTube channel, complete with a soundtrack:
MBARI also shared more info on the bloody-belly comb jelly here: