Scientists divided over eel-like transparent sea creature with no organs

Feb 02, 2022 | 🚀 Fathership
A 'ghostly' see-through sea creature spotted by a swimmer has left scientists divided over what it could be.

Spotted near Cape Town in South Africa by Amy Wainman, 36, the ribbon-like creature is seen undulating through the water, its transparent body seemingly devoid of any organs.

'When I first saw it, it almost looked like some floating plastic,' she said. 'But then it started swimming. It was like a dancing, clear ribbon.

'I had no idea what it was, I had never even seen a picture of one before.'

Eel larva or jelly creature?

Bradley Stevens, a retired marine science professor, formerly of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, said it seemed to be at the end of its larval stage.

He said: 'Its size and location suggest that it is nearing the end of its migration from the mid-oceanic spawning grounds, and will soon become a normal-shaped juvenile eel.'

But Dr Kevin Kocot from The University of Alabama says that one important detail means it's not an eel at all but a rare type of jelly creature, revealing: “Some baby eels have larvae called leptocephalus larvae that look superficially very similar.

“But if you look closely, they have a head and mouth at one end whereas this animal’s mouth is in the middle of the body.

“This is a cestum veneris, a very unusual comb jelly or ctenophore.

He said that the majority of jellyfish-like comb jellies are "more-or-less rounded in shape" and move using wave-like structures on their surface called cilia, but this variant instead uses undulating muscles "like a ribbon".

He added that they are safe to touch, though not to eat, and that they reproduce by laying many tiny eggs.

Amy, an experienced snorkeller, said she saw "several different types" of unusual comb jellies on the same day.

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This commentator thinks MCI ad should not have featured poor Malays

May 12, 2022 | 🚀 Fathership
A Hari Raya advertisement by the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) was 'cancelled' by certain netizens online for depicting lower income Malays according to reality.

"Message for Syawal", a two-and-a-half-minute video published last month (Apr 30) captures moments in the life of a low-income Malay family living in a rental flat.


Pictured: Screenshot from MCI video "Message for Syawal"

The video, which is peppered with Malay proverbs, shows the family moving out of their rental flat to a new home several years later where they celebrate Hari Raya.

The father of the family works as a mover while the mother is a housewife.

Their young son, Syawal, skips school to earn extra income for his family before a teacher flags his absence from school to his parents.

The mother in the video later decides to return to work to alleviate her family’s financial difficulties while the father gets a new job.

Pictured: Screenshot from MCI video "Message for Syawal"

Why some netizens are outraged

The video sparked backlash online, with some viewers saying that it contained stereotypes about the Malay community.

The stereotypes:
  • The father works as a mover - commonly perceived to be a low-income job
  • The mother is jobless
  • The son plays truant
  • The family lives in a rental flat for low-income earners

Commentator implied that poor Malays shouldn't be portrayed in public to prevent stereotypes

Pictured: Screenshot from Homeground Asia video

A video commentary by The Homeground Asia went further by criticizing how the video propagates the narrative that Malays are poor and lazy, and that the ministry should have created a video that is more relatable to both the less fortunate and the more affluent Malays.

Adi Rahman, one of the interviewees in the video went further by making sweeping assumptions that the ministry lacked cultural intelligence and did not consult the community on the narrative.

Ironically, in talking about inclusivity, Adi implied that the realities of poor Malays should not be shown in public.

For example, his rationale suggested that the video contained characters (the mover, jobless mother and the son who skips school) that contribute to the problem of other races seeing the Malays in a stereotypical and reductive light.

In other words, show the good stuff but not the reality.

Adi even accused the ministry for not consulting the Malays in the vetting of the video narrative.

His accusations were without merit, however, when the Ministry said in a statement (Apr 30) that Malay-Muslim viewers - presumably a focus group - had seen the video prior to its release, and perceived the story to be heart-warming, although some expressed reservations.

Pictured: Adi Rahman - one of the commentators in Homeground Asia video

Stereotyping or masking reality?

The ministry said last month (Apr 30) the video was meant to show "a family’s journey of resilience in facing challenging circumstances and how mutual support and encouragement could nurture the process”.

Other netizens felt it was an overreaction and that low-income families shouldn't be dehumanized in a way that they are removed from the conversation. They felt that the video was a call-to-action for those from the underprivileged to strive for a better life through hard work and seeking help that's already available.

The only missed opportunity in the MCI video was perhaps the suggestion that Malays in low income families living in a rental flat could not celebrate Hari Raya unless they get a flat on their own.

But of course, like Homeground Asia, that is also a sweeping assumption.