By Jack Williams
This rare and mesmeric footage shows the vibrancy of sea angels and their flowing mating routine.
The footage shows the sea angels – scientifically known as Clione limacina – fluttering in the waters of Novaya Zemlya, an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean in northern Russia.
Semi-transparent, the creatures glow with yellows and oranges, their intimate moment looking like a dance and captured in extreme clarity by marine biologist Alexander Semenov.
Alex said: “Clione limacina, or sea angel, is one of the most marvellous inhabitants of cold waters of the Arctic, subarctic Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
“This miniature creature is an incredibly graceful swimmer; watching it is a complete pleasure.
“They seem to float in the air slowly waving their wings.
“It’s completely impossible to imagine that an angel evolved from an ancient snail, common ancestor of all present snails and slugs, that are crawling in your garden.”
Clione limacina are protandrous hermaphrodites, Alex said, which means they are both male and female in their life cycles.
All young sea angels are initially males, with eggs developing as they grow up; mature animals have both mature eggs and spermatozoa.
When two angels find each other in an endless water column, they turn out copulatory organs and, with the help of a sucker, attach themselves to the wall of the partner’s body.
This procedure leaves the scars on the little body of an angel, and some adults have up to four such marks, which indicates a hot temperament.
Fertilization can last up to four hours.
During this time, the angels slowly wave their wings and connected to each other float smoothly in the water.
Alex said: “Surprisingly, this fascinating process does not affect their appetite in any way and during the pairing angels can continue to hunt.
“When the most important thing in the life is done, the couple begins to spin in a spiral, describing an increasing radius to disconnect.”