Most of us will never see the inside of a deep-sea submersible, but thanks to NOAA research vessel Okeanos Explorer, we can get pretty darn close! This wispy, ethereal jelly made a lifestream debut recently off the coast of American Samoa.

The creature – which sports a double set of tentacles – was spotted near the "Utu" seamount, an underwater peak which, until now, had never been explored. 

"Very little is known about deep-sea habitats in American Samoa," explains the team. "The seamount appears to be composed of two distinct structures: a pancake-shaped structure at the base and a steeper-sided volcanic structure on top."

Exactly why the Utu jelly has both upward- and downward-facing tentacles is anyone's guess, but NOAA zoologist Dr Allen Collins identified the creature as belonging to the family Rhopalonematidae (Benthocodon hyalinus). These so-called "trachymedusae" have a distinctive umbrella-shaped bell that lacks bulgy lobes.

"I've been lucky enough to see a few live trachymedusae in my lifetime," writes Deep Sea News staffer and jellyfish biologist Dr Rebecca Helm, who contacted Collins for the ID. "They're among the most beautiful jellies I know, with fascinating colours and structures." 

The bright yellow blobs you sea in this one, for example, are the reproductive organs.

Helm also postulates that having opposing rows of tentacles could be beneficial for snaring prey – but until we see a jelly in the food-catching act, it remains one of the many mysteries of the deep. 

Follow along with the expedition on the Okeanos live cam here.

Super Macro Related 2016 09 14

Top header image: NOAA

h/t Deep Sea News