Skip to comments.“Gob-Smackingly Huge” Jellyfish Washes Up in Australia
Posted on 02/10/2014 9:16:28 AM PST by nickcarraway
A regular day at the beach led to a surprising scientific discovery for one family in Australia last monthlocal resident Richard Lim and his family spotted a shockingly large jellyfish at a beach in Howden, a small town in Tasmania.
The family did what anyone would dotake photos, of coursebut they also shared the images with Lisa-ann Gershwin, a research scientist and jellyfish expert at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australias national science agency.
Gershwins first reaction upon seeing the photos? Pure shock, despite the fact that shed already known about the new species.
I had seen what I thought were large specimens, but now we know they are practically babies in comparison, she said. In my 20-plus years of working with jellyfish, it is the largest jellyfish I have seen. It really is gob-smackingly huge.
Classifying the Creature
The worlds largest known jellyfish is Cyanea arctica, and it can grow to 3 meters across the bell, the central body of the jellyfish. Gershwin said the newfound specimen should also belong to the Cyanea genus, which is called a lions mane jellyfish or a snottie thanks to its extremely slimy disposition.
This particular jellyfish is still new to science, however. It belongs to a species that isnt yet named and classified, Gershwin said. It has structural features that make it distinct from other species of lions manes. (Related: For a Nearly Hundred-foot-long Jellyfish, Its Christmas All Year.)
While theres little doubt that this jellyfish is Australias largest, the researchers do not have an exact measurement for it because the bell is buried under the milky substance otherwise known as oral arms used for feeding and reproduction.
But when it comes to the sting factor for this specimen, Gershwin said its stings are painful, but not life threatening. She also added that while you could be well away from it in the water, you may still feel its stingslions mane jellyfish tend to fragment when they get beached, leaving lots of microscopic stingy bits in the surrounding water. (Related: Should Marathon Swimmers Suit Up Against Jellies?)
Doing Better Science
In the last two months, southern Tasmania has experienced a jellyfish bloom that Gershwin said is unprecedented for the areamuch bigger, denser, and longer than previous years. The researchers at CSIRO are working to determine what effect it is having on the ecosystem and whether or not this is an indicator that something may be out of balance.
The jellyfish in the photo washed back into the water with the next tide, but Gershwin is still working to learn more about the new species by studying a smaller preserved specimen. About a month ago, I was able to finally get photos and specimens of this species, so that gave me the opportunity to study it and confirm that its new to science. Then this photo comes to me that is clearly the same species, but a whole lot bigger than I imagined it might get, she said.
It simply is a spectacular find, and I applaud the Lim family for going to the trouble to take the photo and send to it to us for ID. Its a great example of the curious public helping scientists do better science.
It looks like a large animal puked that up.
Was Bill Clinton seen in the area?
Could you land on that?
OK, I’ll say it. Laz would hit it.
I've heard they produce a high quality protein once boiled down . . .
I saw one this big diving off Monterey back in ‘99
It was scary being that close to something that dangerous.
Looks like a typical Republican Congressman.
Maybe a whale just had a runny nose.
I used the term “jellyfish” as a verb at work a while back, and someone didn’t understand what I meant.
So I had to explain it to them.
“If you see a jellyfish that’s washed up on the beach, what does it do?”
“It just lays there.”
“So if someone is ‘jellyfishing,’ what do you think they’re doing?”
Species: Johnus Boehnerus
(also, looks like it was crying)