The ocean is full of surprises, and a great big, gooey surprise washed ashore recently in Australia, and turned out to be a species of jellyfish yet to be scientifically classified.
The giant, mysterious jellyfish, about five feet in diameter, was discovered on a beach in Tasmania by Josie Lim and her family.
“She and her children took this amazing photo that just boggles the mind,” Dr. Lisa-ann Gershwin, of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, told BBC News.
Scientists had been aware of the species, but it’s so rare that it was never classified. Gershwin said it’s one of three new species in the lion’s mane group of sea jellies found off Tasmania. (Sea jellies are commonly referred to as jellyfish, even though they’re not fish.)
“We’re very eager to know more about it,” Gershwin said.
The world’s largest jellyfish shares the same genus—Cyanea—as the lion’s mane. Cyanea capillata is found in the North Atlantic and Arctic. Its bell can span eight feet and its tentacles can grow to about 100 feet.
According to a species profile on the Monterey Bay Aquarium website, “A Cyanea sea jelly was the murder weapon in a Sherlock Holmes mystery called ‘The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane.’
“Although the lion’s mane’s sting can be potentially fatal, most swimmers who encounter this gentle beast survive to tell the story.”
The sea jelly found by the Lims was collected for study.
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