Update: When I first posted this video from diver Ryan Carpenter, I incorrectly identified its floating star as a pyrosome. But our friends at Deep Sea News helped straighten out the story. As it turns out, it's something even cooler: a diamond-shaped squid (Thysanoteuthis rhombus) egg case. What I thought were the zooids (individual members) of the pyrosome colony are actually thousands of growing baby squid (permission to 'squee' granted!).

Every time a pyrosome pops up on the web, I can't help but get excited. For those of you who haven't seen one, to the untrained eye they look very similar to the egg case above! The transparent tubes are reminiscent of plastic 'Water Wigglies' (the '90s toy that was always more fun than it should've been – admit it, you loved your Wigglie). But unlike the eggs, pyrosomes are actually colonial organisms, essentially groups of cloned animals all living and working together! Jellyfish biologist Rebecca Helm explains it best (and warms the cockles of my nerdy heart in the process):

"If the Borg and the Clone Wars had a baby it would be a pyrosome. One long pyrosome is actually a collection of thousands of clones, with each individual capable of copying itself and adding to the colony," she writes. "Like members of the Borg, which are mentally connected, pyrosome members are physically connected – actually sharing tissues. And while the Borg live in a big scary ship, pyrosomes are the big scary ship."

"It's a totally understandable mix-up," explains Helm, who points out the giveaway is the organisation of the eggs themselves. While squid eggs are lined up in perfect rows, the zooids of a pyrosome are jumbled around.

Many marine invertebrates (think octopuses and squid) use jet propulsion to move through the water – but pyrosomes do it better. Unlike most marine 'jet setters' that use small bursts of suction to move themselves along one small go at a time, pyrosomes must constantly suck and expel water. This is because each of the clones relies on plankton for food. If they want to get enough, they have to move water over the 'basket' (the entire tube) at all times. Waste and water then get blown out of the hollow centre, moving the colony along with apparition-like ease – much like the squid eggs are seemlessing floating in the video. All in all, we're pretty convinced that the egg case punked the internet and is still busy perfecting its pyrosome impression (with a bit of help from the current).

Top header image: Nick Hobgood/Flickr