Photo Credit: blog.therainforestsite.com via pininterest.com
What resembles a 60-foot-long inflatable tube, or perhaps even a strange alien species, is actually a pyrosome. While it appears to be one massive tubular creature, it’s actually made up of many thousands of animals known as zooids embedded in a gelatinous tube.
Marine biologist Rebecca Helm explained, “One long pyrosome is actually a collection of thousands of clones, with each individual capable of copying itself and adding to the colony.”
Photo Credit: nerdist.com
The creature’s name means “fiery body” because of its bioluminescence, a bright green-blue glow that can light up the colony when disturbed. The intense light even inspired 19th century scientist Thomas Huxley to write, “I have just watched the moon set in all her glory, and looked at those lesser moons, the beautiful Pyrosoma, shining like white-hot cylinders in the water.”
These “cylinders in the water” can grow to enormous sizes, sometimes exceeding 40 feet in length. Each zooid feeds by sucking in water, filtering small particles and blowing the waste back out. That’s also the technique that propels the colony into motion, just at a very slow pace. When the zooids pause the process, the colony can sink 1,640 to 2,295 feet below the surface of the sea.
This fascinating footage was taken by Eaglehawk Dive Centre in Tasmania, Australia.
You can watch the video here: