What appears to be a large inflatable tube is actually a Pirossomo. And while it appears to be a giant creature actually consists of hundreds or thousands of animals called zooids embedded in a gelatinous tube.
“A long Pirossomo is actually a collection of thousands of clones, with each individual able to copy and add to the colony,” writes marine biologist Rebecca Helm for Deep Sea News.
The creature’s name means “fiery body” because of its bio-luminescence, a green-blue glow that can illuminate the colony when disturbed. This intense light even inspired the 19 century scientist Thomas Huxley to write: “The beautiful Pirossomo, shining like a white-hot cylinder in the water.”
These “cylinders in the water” can grow to enormous sizes, sometimes exceeding 12 meters in length. Each Zooid feeds sucking particles in water, filtering, and blowing debris back out. This is also the method that drives the moving colony, albeit at a very slow pace. When zooids pause this process, the colony can sink 500-700 meters below the sea surface, according to the New Scientist.
The footage was captured by the Eaglehawk Dive Centre in the waters of Tasmania, Australia. [IFLScience]