Phantom of the Deep - Rare Giant Filmed in the Midnight Zone


A giant phantom jellyfish (Photo: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute)

This ghostly giant is a rare sight. It has only been sighted in the wild 100 times since it was first collected in 1899.

The giant phantom jellyfish (Stygiomedusa gigantea)  was caught by Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute's ROV Doc Ricketts 990m  (3,200 feet) in the Midnight Zone of perpetual darkness.

The bell of this deep-sea wanderer is more than one metre (3.3 feet) across and trails four ribbon-like oral (or mouth) arms that can grow more than 10m (33 feet) in length.

MBARI’s ROVs have logged thousands of dives, yet it has only seen this species nine times.


The giant phantom jellyfish was first collected at the end of the 19th Century. Since then, scientists have only encountered this animal about 100 times. It appears to have a worldwide distribution and has been recorded in all ocean basins except for the Arctic.

Because its preferred habitat is so deep, little is known about the behaviour of the giant phantom jelly.

'The challenges of accessing its deep-water habitat contribute to the relative scarcity of sightings for such a large and broadly distributed species,' the institute writes in a Facebook post.

Before being able to observe them with ROVs, scientists tried bringing giant phantom jellies closer to the surface using trawl nets — a common method for deep-dwelling species — but they would turn to 'gelatinous goo' in the nets.





Love diving? You'll love these. Sign up today to immediately download our unique FREE gifts -

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 WRECKS - DIVE's 70-page, beautifully illustrated, colour guide to the world’s best wrecks

SCUBA STORIES - DIVE's collection f real life stories where divers, who have got themselves into perilous situations, describe how they reacted and what actions they took to ensure they lived to tell the tale

PACIFICHighlights of the Pacific - Dancing mantas in Hawaii • The Best Diving in the World, Galápagos, Cocos, Malpelo & Socorro • Mass Spawning Events in Palau

New Upright Gift Banners 300 x 600 px

Sidebar SUBSCRIBE spring 21 large2

Destinations Spotlight

Need inspiration for your next dive trip? Try one of our featured destinations from DIVE's travel partners.

sidebar philippines sidebar bahamas sidebar mexico sidebar fiji sidebar st helena 2020 Sidebar Egypt sidebar banner sabah sidebar banner belize sidebar banner south africa

DIVE Partners

sidebar banner egypt new ceningan divers ad 300x100 LH 300 min giphy subex Wakatobi Siladen Aggressor Fisheye Dive Worldwide gozo banner Arenui

Read DIVE magazine

DIVE magazine is available to read on many devices. Simply click one one of the options below

PCMac final
Apple finalAndroid final

Like what you see?

Join us on social and keep updated daily...