What’s bright purple, has a head the size of a dinner plate and meter-long tentacles, and was recently found washed up on Australian shores? Well, it doesn’t have a name yet, but it could be a new species of jellyfish!
A fisherman spotted the vivid purple jellyfish on the shores of Coolum Beach, Queensland. The fisherman alerted the on-duty lifeguards, who then turned over the violet-colored sea creature to scientists at Underwater World.
Dr. Lisa Gershwin of CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research Centre says the new jellyfish on the block is “straight out of science fiction.”
“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.”
Gershwin speculates that the jellyfish may belong to the genus Thysanostoma, even though the new guy isn’t the typical brown or beige of that genus. This new purple jellyfish does, however, have the telltale tiny-mouth-covered tentacles.
“To see a Thysanostoma is a real treat because they’re not really common this far south of the Great Barrier Reef … but I’ve never seen it in purple, or even close to that color,” Dr. Gershwin told The Brisbane Times. “And this is a whopper of an animal. Usually a Thysanostoma is the size of a woman’s fist and is beige-brown in colour.”
A jellyfish expert from Sea Life Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast is due to examine the creature on Wednesday afternoon and meet with Dr. Gershwin.
Photo credit: Coolum Beach Surf and Life Saving Club/AAP