Diver captures images of ‘underwater aliens’ living in the White Sea
Moscow-based marine biologist Alexander Semenov captures stunning images of deep-sea creatures 500 feet below the White Sea’s surface. Using advanced technology, he photographs these “underwater aliens,” including a giant ‘lion’s mane’ jellyfish, a golden ragworm, and a tiny Arctic ctenophore. Semenov finds these ancient and peculiar life forms fascinating and considers himself lucky to witness them.
Alexander Semenov captures these remarkable images in the White Sea, a remote and pristine inlet on Russia’s northwest coast. The sea spans 34,700 square miles with depths ranging from 197 to 1,115 feet. Semenov conducts his research at a center on the Karelian coast, established by Moscow State University biologists in 1938.
Semenov’s research center, located on the remote Karelian coast, is completely isolated with no road access to the nearby village of Poyaknda, reachable only by boats in summer and snowmobiles in winter due to the sea’s ice cover. The White Sea freezes for four to six months, and the strong tidal currents pose significant challenges for divers, potentially sweeping them away even with safety ropes.
Semenov risks the harsh conditions of the White Sea to document unique creatures like the giant lion’s mane jellyfish, which boasts tentacles up to 120 feet long. This remarkable jellyfish, the world’s largest, has a bell-shaped body with a mouth and eight clusters of tentacles containing up to 150 tentacles each, armed with paralyzing poison. It can also bioluminesce, producing its own captivating light in the dark depths. Semenov finds these encounters astonishing.
‘There are many incredible facts about the ocean, and as you delve deeper, you realize the true wonder of these creatures. Some of them can grow to over seven feet in dome size, with tentacles stretching up to 120 feet.’
‘Incredibly, these creatures can match the average height of a twelve-story building.’ He has also photographed a rare species of zooplankton called Hyperia galba, a planktonic snail known as Limacina helicina, and Hydrozoans, named after the ancient Greek word for water.
Hydrozoans, which are small, predatory animals, derive their name from ancient Greek. Some of them can be found living individually or in colonies.
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