A giant, 5-foot jellyfish washed onto a beach near Hobart, Tasmania. The giant jellyfish prompted excitement among scientists in Australia as they work to formally name and classify the creature.
The jellyfish was found on the southern Australian island of Tasmania by a family collecting shells in late January, according to news reports. “We were at the beach looking for shells and dad was like ‘Whoa! Look at that’…I kind of touched it.. it was pretty cool,” said Xavier Lim. The family sent a photo to Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Hobart, Australia.
The 5-foot white jellyfish with a pink spot in the middle is believed to be a relative of the lion’s mane species popularly known as “snotty.”
“There’s the excitement, that it’s a new species and then there’s the ‘Oh my God factor’ that it happens to be the size of a Smart car,” Lisa-ann Gershwin, a scientist at the government’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, told Reuters. “It’s like Disneyland for marine biologists.”
“It boggles the mind. I mean, it’s so big. I knew that the species gets fairly large, but I didn’t know that it gets that large. It was really a surprise to me when they forwarded the photo to me,” she said.
It was one of a “species I’ve known about for a while but it’s not yet named and classified”, she said. “We’re very eager to know more about it.”
Scientists say this specis is not deadly to humans. “If you touched it or whacked into when you were swimming it is very painful,” Gershwin told the Sydney Morning Herald. “It’s not life-threatening, but it will sting you, it will wake you up.”
Gershwin and other scientists are also trying to discover why there has been a rise in jellyfish in the waters around Tasmania.
“There’s something going on that’s causing a whole lot of species to bloom in staggering numbers and we don’t know why yet. Jellyfish do bloom as a normal part of their life cycle, but not usually this many,” she said. “It’s so thick with jellyfish that it’s like swimming in bubble tea.”
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