'Psychedelic Slinky' Spotted for First Time in 100 Years

Weird sea creature of legends found off California coast
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2016 5:43 PM CST

In 1899, a Leipzig University marine biologist named Carl Chun came across a see-through "sea blob" in the southern Atlantic, and its existence hasn't been confirmed since—until now. Live Science reports on the Bathochordaeus charon invertebrate (what it describes as a "psychedelic Slinky"), recently spotted off the California coast by a remotely operated vehicle under the supervision of a scientist named, appropriately enough, Rob Sherlock. The larvacean, known as B. charon for short, was first noted in the Marine Biodiversity Records journal in August. Larvaceans in general are usually tiny (think millimeters), but larger versions like B. charon—named after the mythical Hades ferryman who leads souls across the River Styx—boast bodies up to 4 inches long and an unusual feeding filter: The creature passes food through a mucus "house" that keeps out larger particles that would clog the inner workings and funnels smaller particles to the larvacean's feeding tube.

The mysterious creature had been elusive since Chun's original spotting, but many believed he had simply seen an already known entity known as Bathochordaeus stygius, and other specimens collected sporadically over the years seemed to back that theory up. Sherlock says his team had no clue that the ROV had come across this stuff of legends when they first encountered it in the waters of Monterey Bay, but when they examined it more carefully, they knew they had made quite a find—and it did prove to be a B. charon, not a B. stygius, based on physical characteristics and genetic material, per Weather.com. "It felt like Chun had finally been vindicated after years of doubt," Sherlock tells Live Science. (Other weird sea blobs washed up on California beaches last year.)

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