Watch The Fascinating Mating Ritual of Sea Angels

Khryss | Published 2017-09-18 01:45

Just look at how graceful these angels dance!

Sea angels are gelatinous (mostly transparent), tiny swimming sea slugs with the largest species reaching 5 cm. They’re called sea angels because their shape closely resembles a snow angel. These marine creatures thrive in the freezing temperatures of the Polar Regions, under sea ice and the Pacific oceans.

They’re also protandrous hermaphrodites, which means that during their life, they’re both male and female. They start out as males, and as they grow into mature sea angels, they start to develop eggs. So how do they mate?

In a rare video filmed by marine biologist Alexander Semenov through the deep waters of the Arctic Ocean off the coast of Novaya Zemlya, an archipelago near northern Russia, two sea angels appear to be mating. In the video, a sea angel is joined by another one and they swim side by side in a mating ritual that looks like a dance.

As sea angels prepare to mate, they whip out their reproductive organs and latch onto each other’s body with a sucker and wings to help stay together during the whole process. This sucker leaves scars on their partner’s body, and some adult sea angels having more than one scar, indicating that there’s more than one mating ritual.

“This miniature creature is an incredibly graceful swimmer; watching it is a complete pleasure,” Semenov says. "They seem to float in the air, slowly waving their wings.” The whole fertilization process can last up to more than three hours. But Semenov says that their mating ritual doesn’t affect their hunger, in fact, they can hunt for prey while still attached to each other. And once they’re done, they move in a spiral to disconnect themselves.

But if you’re tripping balls, the video may look like two human beings swirling through the vastness of space...or just creatures trying to get down and dirty. Your choice.

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