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article imageGiant species of jellyfish found on Australian beach (video)

By Anne Sewell     Feb 7, 2014 in Science
Hobart - A family were collecting shells on a beach in Howden, south of Hobart in Tasmania, Australia when they found a giant, as yet unknown, species of jellyfish. The jellyfish is now being described as a type of “snotty” jellyfish and is 1.5 meters across.
This is not the kind of creature you’d want to run into when having a swim at the beach. When the family found it, they took a photo and sent it to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) for their investigations.
Josie Lim, a member of the family that found the monster said, "In Tasmania, we don't do jellyfish. This was something else. We've just never seen anything like it."
While the Lims had never seen or heard anything like the giant jellyfish, it turns out that Dr. Lisa-Ann Gershwin of CSIRO has been hearing stories for the last 10 years about just this kind of elusive creature, said to be found in the sea off Tasmania.
Dr. Gershwin, who has been working with jellyfish for around 20 years, said that the first thing she said when seeing the photograph was “Phwoar” adding “It's a very scientific term.” But she did say she was “ just rapt by it” and that it is such an amazing find.
According to “Dr. Gershwin, people have been asking for years about a large, “white-ish” jellyfish "with pink in the middle" in the sea off Tasmania. Previously, though, no one had managed to get a photo of the elusive critter.
Dr. Gershwin said that it was around five years ago that she finally accepted that there are really three different types of lion’s mane jellyfish in the area, or “snotties” as they are known by Australians. “Yes snotties, they're a bit slimy," she said as an explanation for the name.
Since then, Dr. Gershwin has obtained samples of two of these three species, previously unknown to science.
Now she is lucky to have a sample of the third kind. It turns out that they are becoming a bit of a menace in Tasmania. She said that suddenly she was getting many calls and people were sending her photographs. “Sure enough this thing is an absolute menace this season; it's been around in large numbers," she said.
While Dr. Gershwin had managed to get a sample just before Christmas, she says that it was nowhere near the size of the specimen found by the Lim family. She said that it literally boggles the mind, it is so big. She knew that the species could get pretty big, but not that large apparently. She said it was really a surprise when she received the photograph.
Scientists are apparently still a little stumped about why there has been such a huge jellyfish bloom in Tasmania this month. Apparently not just the latest species, but all kinds.
She said, "Jellyfish do bloom as a normal part of their life cycle, but not usually this many.
"There's something going on and we don't know what it is. To me, the real question is ... what impact are all of these mouths having on the ecosystem, and what in turn does that mean to us?"
The latest specimen found by the Lims will be forwarded to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery's collection. Dr. Gershwin does say she had a name all picked out, but it has to go through a process to formally name and classify the new “snotty.” Until then, her choice will remain secret.
More about Tasmania, Jellyfish, snotty, Hobart
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