Early this Wednesday morning, beachgoers at Coolum Beach, Queensland were lucky enough to spot a potentially new species of purple jellyfish that scientists believe may part of the Thysanostoma genus.
The gorgeous, seemingly glowing jelly was first spotted by a fisherman who alerted on-duty lifeguards Jamie Smith and Mick Daly, who then handed over the specimen to scientists at Underwater World. According to Smith, the head is around the size of a dinner plate and the tentacles are about a meter long. “It’s a very vibrant looking jellyfish. It’s pure purple,” he told Brisbane Times.
The strange jellyfish – which almost looks like it’s a living gumdrop rather than an animal – has sparked interest in marine biologist Dr Lisa Gershwin from the CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research Centre, who believes that it may represent a completely new species. “It’s straight out of science fiction,” she told the Guardian. Examinations are currently taking place by a jellyfish expert from Sea Life Mooloolaba to classify the creature.
According to Gershwin,the jellyfish likely belongs to the genus Thysanostoma. These are usually brown or beige (and boring?) and prefer warmer waters, making this case particularly unusual. She also thinks it’s unlikely that the jellyfish gained its vivid color by eating or contacting something. “It begs the question, if it’s such a vibrant, different color, what other features does it have?” she added.
Scientists believe this new species of jellyfish is part of the Thysanostoma genus due to the fact that the tentacles are covered in the characteristic tiny mouths which help the animal eat as much yummy plankton as possible.
“The fact that this jellyfish is big, the fact that it’s been found in a different locality and the fact that it’s a spectacularly different color… makes me wonder whether this really is a new species,” said Gershwin. “It’s really exciting.”
Just as an aside: It also reminds me of being made out of those cool jelly sandals I used to wear as a kid – remember?
H/T to IFLS for the story! 🙂