Get smart curated videos delivered to your inbox.   SUBSCRIBE
The Kid Should See This

‘Giant’ larvaceans filter the ocean with mucous webs

Watch more with these video collections:

Using remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and a new laser-and-camera system, researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) have been able to study three Bathochordaeus species, transparent and relatively ‘giant’ larvaceans, in their natural habitat off the coast of Northern California. This kind of access also gives researchers a close up look at the large mucous webs or houses that larvaceans create to gather food particles floating in the sea. From MBARI:

The house is made up of two filters and basically functions as an elaborate feeding apparatus. They eat tiny particles of dead or drifting plants and animals that float through the water column. The outer filter traps larger particles too big for the animal to eat, while the inner filter guides smaller food particles into the larvacean’s mouth. Eventually the filters get clogged and the larvacean abandons them. The sinking houses, packed with food particles, provide an important source of food for animals living on the seafloor.

siphonophore anatomy
Benefits from these filter feeding zooplankton and their gooey gelatinous bubble nets don’t end there. From The New York Times:

In a study published in Science Advances on Wednesday, scientists near California’s Monterey Bay have found that, through this process, giant larvaceans can filter all of the bay’s water from about 300 to 1,000 feet deep in less than two weeks, making them the fastest known zooplankton filter feeders.

In doing so, the creatures help transfer carbon that has been removed from the atmosphere by photosynthesizing organisms to the deep sea, where it can be buried and stored long term. And given their abundance in other parts of the world, these organisms likely play a crucial role in the global carbon cycle.

siphonophore species

Explore more MBARI videos and more vids about mucus:
• Banana Slugs and Secret of the Slime
• New Zealand’s Waitomo Glowworm Caves in 4K
• divers may have discovered the largest squid egg mass ever seen

Also, filter feeders! Sea cucumbers are underwater vacuum cleaners and ocean sponges have incredible filtering power.

via @StephStoneSF.

This Webby award-winning video collection exists to help teachers, librarians, and families spark kid wonder and curiosity. TKSST features smarter, more meaningful content than what's usually served up by YouTube's algorithms, and amplifies the creators who make that content.

Curated, kid-friendly, independently-published. Support this mission by becoming a sustaining member today.

🌈 Watch these videos next...

Why We’re Suckers for the Giant Pacific Octopus

Rion Nakaya

Whale sharks, the gentle giants of Thailand

Rion Nakaya

Waitomo Glowworm Caves – Life in the Undergrowth

Rion Nakaya

Vampire squids turn inside out to avoid predators

Rion Nakaya

The Unlikely Tale of a Tenacious Snail – Science Friday

Rion Nakaya

The strange and amazing barreleye fish (Macropinna microstoma)

Rion Nakaya

The secret life of sea snot

Rion Nakaya

The pointy-nosed blue ratfish Hydrolagus trolli

Rion Nakaya

The elusive Black Seadevil Anglerfish: Rare video footage by MBARI

Rion Nakaya