For a social movement only ten years old, members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster must have felt they had already reached their "Messiah Moment" when footage emerged from the deep sea near Angola.
Video from a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) at a depth of 1325m off the Angola coast revealed a bizarre looking creature on the ocean seabed. The ROV was being operated by a team from BP that was working on an oil well nearby. The group nicknamed the creature, "Flying Spaghetti Monster", a reference to the deity of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
The church - also known as Pastafarianism - is a social movement or parody religion that opposes the teaching of intelligent design and creationism in schools.
BP passed the footage to the UK's National Oceanography Centre and after Daniel Jones and Dr Philip Pugh of the SERPENT project cast an expert eye over the video, they identified the creature as a Siphonophore, belonging to a group of aquatic animals such as corals and jellyfish.
More precisely, the specimen is known as Bathyphysa conifera.
Jones said, "This unusual creature has sparked a huge reaction on the internet with over a quarter of a million people watching the video over the last week! The video was sent to me by oil industry ROV pilots through the SERPENT network. It is a great example of how collaboration with industry can allow us to see much more of the deep sea and its strange and wonderful marine life."
The "Scientific and Environmental ROV Partnership using Existing iNdustrial Technology (SERPENT)" project helps to make technology and date from the oil and gas industry more accessible to the science community, thus enabling progress in the deep-sea research field.
Some Siphonophore can grow up to 40 metres long, making some species among the longest animals in the world.
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