At first glance, the snaky siphonophore may look like an immensely long — upwards of 160 feet — creature.

At first glance, the snaky siphonophore may look like an immensely long — upwards of 160 feet — creature.

New deep sea footage captured by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute shows a siphonophore in vivid detail. It looks somewhat like a giant, floating millipede. But it’s composed of innumerable specialized organisms doing an assortment of things.

Siphonophores dwell at some 2,300 to 3,280 feet beneath the surface, so they’re not easy to study. Marine researchers used high-resolution cameras aboard a deep sea exploration robot to focus on how the translucent bell-like pieces (“nectophores”) move the colorful colony through the water.

Little is known about siphonophores, including what their roles may be in the vast deep ocean ecosystem.