By Luke Kenton
This is the incredible moment a solitary purple female moon jellyfish is captured floating among thousands of males in stunning rare phenomenon.
In Valdez, Alaska, USA, a breathtaking occurrence takes place in the summertime at Port Fidalgo Fjord, as hundreds of thousands of male jellyfish congregate en mass in the hope of alluring the one solitary female among the swell.
Nicknamed the ‘Jellyfish Wedding’ by videographer Alex Benedik, this ceremony of unity sees the ‘bride’ wearing purple rather than white, as she floats through the aisles made by the vast congregation of her prospective partners.
Much like the colonies of ants or bees, a jellyfish bloom has only one female among the masses, meaning the competition for procreation is incredibly fierce.
Comprised mainly of moon jellyfish, the assembly also reluctantly plays host to a number of predatory yellow Lion Mane jellyfish, whose toxic tentacles usually result in a fatal encounter if touched by any of the herd.
Witnessing the serene spectacle first hand, Alex, from Mistelbach, Austria, said: “This was a very exciting natural occurrence for me to witness -I’ve been waiting over five years to do this dive.
“The blooms are incomprehensibly huge, and I felt incredibly blessed to witness such an important part in a jellyfish’s life.
“I didn’t have a chance to count how many there were, but it seemed like millions.
“As the swells are so vast, usually it’s incredibly rare to spot a purple female, particularly this close.
“We almost missed it. I had resurfaced waiting to a signal a boat for pick-up, but thankfully one of my diver buddies spotted it and called everyone back down below the surface.
“The female was swimming around 18 metres below the surface – I could have followed her for hours, but unfortunately the air on my tank started to run very low and I had to resurface.
“I absolutely loved it; I can’t get enough dives in the blooms; it’s always a blessing to be a part of underwater life.”