Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

“Gob-Smackingly Huge” Jellyfish Washes Up in Australia
National Geographic ^ | February 7, 2014 | Sonia Harmon

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 month—local 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 do—take photos, of course—but they also shared the images with Lisa-ann Gershwin, a research scientist and jellyfish expert at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency.

Gershwin’s first reaction upon seeing the photos? Pure shock, despite the fact that she’d 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 world’s 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 lion’s 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 isn’t yet named and classified,” Gershwin said. “It has structural features that make it distinct from other species of lion’s manes.” (Related: “For a Nearly Hundred-foot-long Jellyfish, It’s Christmas All Year.”)

While there’s little doubt that this jellyfish is Australia’s 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 stings—lion’s 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 area—much 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 it’s 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. It’s a great example of the curious public helping scientists do better science.”

TOPICS: Outdoors; Pets/Animals
KEYWORDS: australia; jellyfish

1 posted on 02/10/2014 9:16:28 AM PST by nickcarraway
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway

It looks like a large animal puked that up.

2 posted on 02/10/2014 9:18:31 AM PST by wastedyears (The Ender's Game movie was a stupendous, colossal, galactic failure to me.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: wastedyears

Was Bill Clinton seen in the area?

3 posted on 02/10/2014 9:19:52 AM PST by Jeff Chandler (Obamacare: You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: SkyDancer

Could you land on that?

4 posted on 02/10/2014 9:20:25 AM PST by nickcarraway
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway

OK, I’ll say it. Laz would hit it.

5 posted on 02/10/2014 9:23:59 AM PST by mc5cents (Pray for America)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway
I wouldn't touch it with anything other than a long hooked pole. Then I would drag it as far away from the shoreline as possible.

I've heard they produce a high quality protein once boiled down . . .

6 posted on 02/10/2014 9:26:39 AM PST by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway

I saw one this big diving off Monterey back in ‘99
It was scary being that close to something that dangerous.

7 posted on 02/10/2014 9:46:11 AM PST by Zathras
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway

Looks like a typical Republican Congressman.

8 posted on 02/10/2014 9:47:38 AM PST by dfwgator
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway

Maybe a whale just had a runny nose.

9 posted on 02/10/2014 10:07:38 AM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway

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?”



10 posted on 02/10/2014 10:16:59 AM PST by Disambiguator
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dfwgator

Species: Johnus Boehnerus
(also, looks like it was crying)

11 posted on 02/10/2014 3:42:42 PM PST by Eddie01 (Liberals lie about everything all the time.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson