Siphonophores (Apolemia)

Considered to be the longest animal of its kind and one of the longest on Earth, Apolemia is a fascinating colony to see. Recently, the longest one known thus far was reported in the news. So what exactly is Apolemia?

Physical Description and Behavior

If you look at the Apolemia from afar, they look like glowing blue fuzzy worms. They are very long and look bumpy or hairy up close. They have a transparent "head" known as a nectosome. These specialized cells are made for swimming, taking the whole colony with it.

The thing about Apolemia is that it is not a singular organism like originally thought, but instead a colony. They start as one organism and then clone themselves over and over again to become a longer and longer chain. Each organism has a specific duty, such as catching food, reproducing, and moving the colony when needed.

They eat crustaceans, fish, and even other siphonophores. They do this by dangling toxic tentacles that their prey gets caught in. While they are usually 100 feet long at most, the one in the news article is believed to be 390 feet.

They are closely related to Jellyfish and live in the deep ocean. In fact, the Portuguese Man-o-War is another siphonophore. Apolemia is fairly hard to find, and as a result, is one of the least studied and least known of all of the siphonophores.

Habitat and Location

They can be found in warm water areas all over the world. This includes the United States, Japan, England, France, Africa, and Sweden.

You can see an Apolemia colony in action by checking out this video by EVNautilus. It has amazing closeups of the different cells and the tentacles.

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