Phantom eel? Diver meets ghostly transparent sea creature that moves like a ‘dancing ribbon’ – and his identity has divided experts
- Amy Wainman, 36, was diving off the coast of Cape Town in South Africa
- She encountered a ghostly, eel-like creature that is almost completely transparent
- Images of the creature have divided experts, with claims that it is a “type of jelly” as well as an eel larva that had not yet developed
Incredible footage shows the moment a diver encounters a ghostly, eel-like creature that is almost completely transparent.
Experts are divided over the bizarre sea creature spotted by Amy Wainman, 36, at Simon’s Town near Cape Town in South Africa.
In Amy’s images, the creature can be seen waving through the water, its transparent body seemingly devoid of organs.
The diver said the “amazing, magical” creature was unlike anything she’d ever seen.
Incredible footage shows the moment Amy Wainman, 36, encounters a ghostly, eel-like creature with an almost completely transparent body off the coast of Cape Town in South Africa’s Western Cape
“When I first saw it, it almost looked like a floating plastic,” she said. “But then the swimming started. It was like a dancing, bright ribbon.
“I had no idea what it was, I’d never even seen a picture of it.”
Some experts have suggested that the images show an eel larva.
Bradley Stevens, a retired professor of marine science formerly of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, said it appeared to be at the end of its larval stage.
He said: “Its size and location suggest it is nearing the end of its migration from the mid-ocean spawning grounds, and will soon become a normal-shaped juvenile eel.”
“When I first saw it, it almost looked like a floating plastic,” she said. “But then the swimming started. It was like a dancing clear ribbon’
Diver Amy said the ‘amazing, magical’ creature was unlike anything she’d ever seen
Amy’s footage shows the creature rippling through the water, its transparent body seemingly devoid of organs
But Kevin Kocot, an associate professor at the University of Alabama who specializes in invertebrate zoology, believes it’s actually a “very unusual” type of jelly.
He said: ‘Some baby eels have larvae called leptocephalus larvae, which are superficially very similar.
“But if you look closely, they have a head and a mouth on one side, while this animal’s mouth is in the middle of the body.
‘This is a cestum veneris, a very unusual comb jelly or ctenophore.
“Most comb jellies are more or less round in shape and swim with ‘combs’ – rows of cilia – but this species (and another in the family) swims with undulating muscles like a ribbon.”
“I had no idea what it was, I’d never even seen a picture of it,” said Amy (pictured). Some experts have suggested that the images show an eel larva
dr. Kocot said the creature, better known as a Belt of Venus, survives on a diet of “various planktonic animals such as small crustaceans and juvenile fish.”
He said, “This one looks like it has a mouth full of food, but I can’t tell what it’s got from the video.”
He added that they are safe to touch but not to eat, and they reproduce by laying many small eggs.
For Amy, who lives in Cape Town, the experience was unique.
“It was the first and last time I ever saw one,” she said.
‘It was something very special to see; I’ve snorkeled all over the world so it was great to see something so cool in my hometown. I hope I will see another one someday.
“It was an unusual day for snorkeling, as we saw several types of comb jellies that we had never seen and haven’t seen since.”