A rare, giant sea creature was spotted floating in the depths of the Pacific Ocean, leaving researchers baffled about the identity of the species.
The bizarre-looking creature was found by a team of scientists while on board a research vessel.
The scientists were on the E/V Nautilus, a vessel used by the Ocean Exploration Trust — a nonprofit organization conducting deep-sea research — when they came across the creature, Live Science reported.
"My mind is blown right now," one of the scientists on board can be heard saying in a video recently released. The boat’s remotely operated vehicle was scanning the ocean floor when they caught a glimpse of the creature.
"I’m not on the edge of my seat or nothing," another scientist said. The scientists also spotted another similar-looking creature, but they were unable to record it.
The video posted on EVNautilus's YouTube channel has been viewed more than 100,000 times.
The species, which has not been identified, had tentacles extending 16 inches from a nearly 7-foot-long stalk, and a single feeding polyp with barbed tentacles. The creature was spotted on July 7 at 9,823 feet below the surface near the north of Johnston Atoll, an unincorporated U.S. territory and a National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii.
Initially, researchers thought the creature was a Solumbellula monocephalus, also known as a Solumbellula sea pen, which is part of the Cnidaria phylum that includes jellyfish, hydras and coral. However, it was later found this was likely a new species of sea pen.
Steve Auscavitch, the expedition’s lead researcher, described the sighting as "fascinating."
"From time to time, we come across something that we never expected to see, and those are often the most powerful observations," he told Live Science. "We were nearing the end of our cruise and were at the bottom of the seafloor when we observed the two [sea pens]. The one we captured on video was massive, possibly the same size or larger than Hercules, our ROV. When I saw this amazing sea pen on video, I knew exactly what it could be."
"Prior to this, Solumbellula monocephalus had never been seen in the central Pacific and never collected," he said, adding more research was needed to determine if this was the first Pacific Solumbellula monocephalus or potentially a new species.
"Findings like this are rare, and we never expected to see something like this," he said. "The most exciting part of this research is that we come across these things from time to time, and it really does expand our horizon about where animals can live and exist in the deep sea."