By Nelson Groom
Fresh footage has emerged of the moment a diver was dwarfed a huge wormlike sea creature which resembled a FLOATING CONDOM after it surfaced from the deep.
The incredible video shows Ben Laurie, 21, crossing paths with the elusive 33 foot pyrosome while diving near Cape Brett on New Zealand’s North Island late last month.
The experienced diver said he had never experienced anything like the unique once in a lifetime sighting and was vigilant not to venture too close for his own safety.
But incredibly, the serpent-shaped specimen is actually a floating colony made up of hundreds to thousands of tiny creatures which are carried by the current.
Ben said: “I was just coming up from the reef when I saw it.
“It looked sort of like a condom or tube floating in the tide, I had no idea what it was so I was pretty confused.
“Part of me did want to get close and touch it, but I was concerned about the danger of it being toxic so I kept my distance.”
The pyrosome feeds by filtering microscopic plant cells out of the sea who release filtered water inside the colony.
Cold currents flowing at this time of the year transport the creature close enough to the surface for the occasional sighting.
But Ben, an ambassador for the WildBlue dive shop, said he was fully aware of how lucky he was to set eyes on the creature – not to mention capture it on camera.
Ben said: “One of the guys did touch it and said it wasn’t soft at all, it was a firm cardboard-like sort of texture.
“It’s very rare to see them in the shallows because they surface from depths of 2,000 metres.
“Once they surface to a certain level the fish actually eat it so it stays deep. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime spot.”
Dr Ana B Bugnot from the School of Life and Enviornmental Sciences at The University of Sydney said: “Pyrosomes are usually found in remote areas, where the probabilities of encounter with humans are low.
“They move to deep water during the day and they surface to shallow waters during the night, so they can be found at these shallows.
“There is some indication heatwaves can accelerate the proliferation of pyrosome’s food, but research into this is scare.”