'World's longest recorded sea creature' among new finds

The Falkor is being funded by the Schmidt Ocean Institute - a research body founded by American philanthropist and businesswoman Wendy Schmidt, and her husband, former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt.

Several new species have already been discovered during the project, Institute spokesperson Carlie Wiener said, as well as the "world's longest recorded sea creature" - a 45-metre long siphonophore found at Ningaloo canyon, off Western Australia.

A siphonophore is a type of colonial organism; it's a string-like arrangement of many individual animals - zooids - that live connected together in a colony, and carry out different functions that allow the collective to digest food, float, reproduce and move about.

Wiener said their latest reef discovery demonstrated how valuable the project is.

"Australia has no dedicated underwater vehicle, so there are a lot of areas that haven't been looked at before. This is evidence for the importance of exploring our undersea environment, so that we can protect it."