Giant Jellyfish Found By Australian Family On Tasmanian Beach May Be New Species

By Josh Lieberman on February 6, 2014 1:01 PM EST

giant jellyfish
A giant jellyfish found on a beach in Australia may be a new species. It's likely a type of lion's man jellyfish (pictured above). (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A family walking along a beach in Tasmania, Australia, has happened upon a washed-up giant jellyfish which may be a new species. (See a photo of the jellyfish here.) Measuring about five feet in diameter and looking something like an enormous, wholly unappetizing pancake, giant jellyfish like this one have been rumored to haunt the waters of Tasmania for a some time. Jellyfish expert Lisa-ann Gershwin of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Australia's government-run scientific research agency, said she's been hearing giant jellyfish rumors for about a decade. 

Like Us on Facebook

"The thing that I first said when I saw [the photograph] was 'Phwoar.' It's a very scientific term," said Gershwin. ("Phwoar" is apparently British slang meaning an "expression of appreciation for an attractive person.") "I'm just rapt by it, honestly. It's such an amazing find."

The giant jellyfish is one of three species found in Tasmania which are (perhaps) lion's mane jellyfish. The largest known jellyfish species, lion's mane jellyfish hang out in cold Arctic waters and the north Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, venturing as far south as the 42nd parallel north (which hits, roughly, New York City and Rome, Italy). If you're playing along at home, you'll realize that Australia is a lot further south than that. In the past few years, Gershwin has collected samples of three species of "snotties" ("Yes snotties, they're a bit slimy," she says), species she believes species are previously unknown types of lion's mane jellyfish which don't live way up in the Arctic. 

"It's not new because it's large," Gershwin said of last month's giant jellyfish discovery. "It's new because its structural features are unlike other species, it just so happens that this one is huge...it's the size of a Smart car." In addition to the structural features, Gershwin says that the muscular and tentacle features are also unlike other lion's mane jellyfish.

Gershwin's her next step will be to describe the three jellyfish samples she's collected in a paper in order to have them formally classified.

The largest lion's mane jellyfish ever described was an 1870 specimen that washed ashore on the Massachusetts Bay. The body of that jellyfish measured 7 feet and 6 inches in diameter and had 120-foot tentacles. A photo of an absolutely massive lion's mane jellyfish recently making the internet rounds is fake, and has been fake since 2012.

For non-viral, actually-real reasons, jellyfish have been in the news a fair bit in the past couple of months. Jellyfish populations have exploded, worrying scientists, as large jellyfish populations can be an indicator that ocean ecosystems are out of whack. They can destroy fish populations, and can even wreaked havoc on nuclear power plants. To deal with the jellyfish problem, one team of South Korean scientists have invented a jellyfish-shredding robot. That should do the trick.

READ MORE:

12-Million-Year-Old Fossil Found At Calif. School May Be New Sperm Whale Species

Pacific Salmon Have Built-In GPS That Uses A Magnetic Field To Guide Them Home

Oregon Minnow Removed From Endangered Species List Is First-Ever Delisted Fish

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Join the Conversation

Sponsored From Around the Web

    ZergNet
Follow iScience Times
us on facebook RSS
 
us on google
 
Most Popular
INSIDE iScience Times
Do Dolphins Get High? BBC Cameras Catch Dolphins Chewing On Pufferfish Toxins
Do Dolphins Get High? BBC Cameras Catch Dolphins Chewing On Pufferfish Toxins
How Many Ways Can You Tie A Tie?
How Many Ways Can You Tie A Tie?
Ribbon Of Charged Particles At Solar System's Edge Acts Like A Wind Sock For Interstellar Magnetism
Ribbon Of Charged Particles At Solar System's Edge Acts Like A Wind Sock For Interstellar Magnetism
How to Turn Your Tap Water Faucet  Into a Coffee Spout [VIDEO]
How to Turn Your Tap Water Faucet Into a Coffee Spout [VIDEO]
Coolest Science Photos Of 2013: From Blobfish To Two-Headed Shark, Comet ISON To Mars Selfie
Coolest Science Photos Of 2013: From Blobfish To Two-Headed Shark, Comet ISON To Mars Selfie
This Is A Scientifically-Proven Rock-Paper-Scissors Winning Strategy (But If Your Opponent Uses It Too, It's A Draw)
This Is A Scientifically-Proven Rock-Paper-Scissors Winning Strategy (But If Your Opponent Uses It Too, It's A Draw)