By Luke Kenton
This bizarre underwater critter will leave you feeling like you’ve stumbled into the upside-down, as it eats by stretching its head in search of prey – much a Demogorgon from Stranger Things.
In the depths of the Ceram sea, underwater cameraman Jace Green stumbled across a spooky-looking creature during a night dive in Raja Ampat, Indonesia.
Catching a glimpse of peculiar movement in a stroke of his torchlight, the 48-year-old was perplexed at his unsightly discovery.
He later identified the deep sea dweller as a Melibe viridis, a rare type of carnivorous nudibranch.
With new species of nudibranch being discovered every week (currently over 3000 variations have been recognised) this unorthodox sea slug feeds by scanning the sea bed with its oral hood; when the small brushes inside the mouth detect food, the hood rapidly retracts, trapping the prey inside.
Growing up to 120mm long, the soft-shelled mollusk certainly isn’t as menacing as a “Stranger Things” Demogorgon, but it certainly bears a striking resemblance.
Jace, an underwater documentarian for over 13 years, said: “I have been diving since 2005 and this is my first encounter with this species – they are pretty rare and it was very exciting to witness this for the first time.
“I saw something moving on the sand in the beam of my torch light, it looked very peculiar.
“All 17 species of Melibe nudibranchs typically feed in this way, which is very unusual for Nudibranchs.
“The Melibe are all carnivores and active predators.
“Although it looks like a harmless blob of algae or seaweed sitting at the bottom of the ocean, its actually a voracious predator – I wouldn’t want to be a shrimp with one of those around.
“I’m a big nudibranch lover – there are so many to discover.
“Their colours and behaviour are fascinating to me. I have to put this in my top five bizarre animal encounters.”