Unicorns of the Sea

Pyrosomes. Scientists have dubbed these odd creatures “unicorns of the sea” because they’re just that mystical, magical, and fantastical. This particular pyrosome that we encountered was about 7-8 feet in length and composed of hundreds, even thousands, of individuals (or zooids) – similar to a siphonophore (see The Longest Animal in the World post). Unlike a siphonophore, however, these pyrosome zooids are essentially the same and don’t have specialized functions. Each one eats, uses water propulsion to move, and reproduces. Pyrosomes are also bioluminescent, and each individual in the colony is able to emit light. So, you get this kind of bioluminescent “wave” effect, where one zooid lights up and causes the surrounding zooids to light up, too. And as I mentioned in the previous post, these individuals are joined together by a gelatinous tunic to form this fuzzy, pant leg, wind-sock looking thing…yeah, see for yourself in the video below.

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~ by twonakedapes on October 8, 2013.

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