Rare ROV Footage of a Giant Phantom Jellyfish Floating 3,200 Feet Below the Surface of the Monterey Bay

Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute captured absolutely fascinating ROV footage of a rarely seen giant phantom jellyfish deep below the surface of the Monterey Bay.

The ROV Doc Ricketts was launched more than 990 meters (3,200 feet) deep into the bay when it came across the giant jelly with a glowing bell. According to the Institute, this is one of the largest invertebrates of the deep sea, and while phantom jellies are considered to be widespread throughout the world, their presence is rarely made known.

The bell of this deep-sea denizen is more than one meter (3.3 feet) across and trails four ribbon-like oral (or mouth) arms that can grow more than 10 meters (33 feet) in length. MBARI’s ROVs have logged thousands of dives, yet we have only seen this spectacular species nine times. The giant phantom jelly was first collected in 1899. Since then, scientists have only encountered this animal about 100 times

The advent of the ROV allows researchers to see such rare species in their natural habitats.

Historically, scientists relied on trawl nets to study deep-sea animals. …The cameras on MBARI’s ROVs have allowed MBARI researchers to study these animals intact in their natural environment. High-definition—and now 4K—video of the giant phantom jelly captures stunning details about the animal’s appearance and behaviors that scientists would not have been able to see with a trawl-caught specimen.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.