What appears to be a giant living blob washed ashore a beach in southern Tasmania, where it was discovered by a family. Turns out it is a new species of lion’s-mane jellyfish.
Government scientist Lisa-ann Gershwin told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that although the species had been spotted before in the water, it hasn’t been technically classified and is new to science. “It’s a whopper,” she said. “We do get large jellyfish and this one just happened to be this absolutely enormous specimen.”
The animal grows about 5 feet long, and is able to sting, but is not deadly, Gershwin added. There have been several reports of this new species, and related jellyfish, appearing in large numbers off Tasmania this year.
“We don’t actually know what’s going on that’s led, not only to this species, but many, many types of jellyfish blooming in massive numbers,” Gershwin told The Sydney Morning Herald. “Jellyfish do bloom as a normal part of their life cycle, but not usually this many.”
She is working to get the new species classified and has picked out a name, but hasn’t yet revealed what it is. One hopes it involves the local colloquial name for the lion’s-mane jelly, “snotty.”
Jellyfish do well in damaged ecoystems where top-level predators like sharks have been removed, and some scientists expect to see jellyfish numbers expand in the future.