Meet the carnivorous sea slug that uses its huge, gelatinous head as a fishing net to catch its prey, while floating around on 13 leg-like appendages that altogether make it look like the best straight-outta-sci-fi creature we’ve seen in a good while.
Filmed at a dive site on the north coast of Bali named Puri Jati last month by diver Emeric Benhalassa, the creature looks pretty content to just cruise around the ocean floor, scouting for prey and enveloping it with that transparent balloon head.
Identified as the nudibranch species melibe viridis, these things can grow up to 140 mm (5.5 inches) long, and generally come in yellow-brown or green varieties.
While the species itself is fairly common, the footage above gives us a rare glimpse at its unique feeding technique.
The sea slug doesn’t have great eyesight, so instead of trying to spot prey, it uses its net-like head – known technically as an ‘oral veil’ – to cover as much ground on the sea floor.
Once prey has been detected, which is usually a small crab or mollusc, the rows of sensory papillae that look like tiny teeth running along the inner edge of veil will rapidly close around it, trapping the food inside.
Here’s some more footage of the species, this time holding its leg-like appendages up over its back: