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Diver and underwater photographer Scott Gietler contacted me this week about his latest adventure.
"A few days ago I found a giant, fifteen-foot jellyfish!" he told me. "It was so exciting. We were diving in the middle of the ocean, in 2,000 feet of water! We went down on scuba to 100 feet deep and found this giant jellyfish."
Scott said this is a purple-striped jellyfish (Chrysaora colorata). Note the fish swimming underneath it. Fish often cruise next to large jellies like this for protection from predators. This particular jellyfish species has a very powerful sting, but Scott said he and his colleagues were well covered.
The divers hit the jellyfish jackpot on the fifth day of their diving trip in Southern California. Scott said he and his team usually stay tethered to an anchor line, but they couldn't resist free swimming over to the purple-striped jellyfish, which he called a "majestic beast," for a more personal, up close encounter.
Lucky for us, the breathtaking moment was captured on video too.
The divers later saw "hundreds of 12-inch orange jellyfish, comb jellies, a couple more extremely rare juvenile ragfish under jellies, many salps, pelagic gastropods, and a giant siphonophore that was at least 60 feet long! Maybe even up to 100 feet long. It just kept going on and on and on, out of the range of visibility."