Whoa. This is a siphonophore colony, 15 meters in diameter, just floating in the ocean with tentacles dangling down to catch prey.
Omg I have CHILLS. This is an ANIMAL. I'm guessing it's over a hundred feet long, forming a spiral in the middle of the deep sea. I've gone on numerous expeditions and have never, EVER, seen anything like this. Let me tell you what this is and why it is blowing my mind [a thread] https://t.co/6SoWmfxsJH
— Open Ocean Exploration (@RebeccaRHelm) April 6, 2020
I read the whole thread and didn’t see an answer to the question that immediately popped into my head. This is a colonial aggregate of multiple siphonophore bodies linked together into a long string, but it has an overall form of a spiral. How? Is there local signaling going on to regulate the distance between the strands so that it spontaneously forms that structure, or is it an accident of currents? I’m going to guess the former, which would be most interesting, because it implies the existence of factors that lead to large scale form and is therefore the kind of process that would lead to more elaborate patterns of development.
Also, it’s so planar. Is this something the animal regulates, or is it just layers in the ocean maintaining it?