Giant Mysterious Jellyfish Washes Up On Tasmanian Shores

Richard Lim

Jellyfish that inhabit tropical waters, like those surrounding Tasmania, are typically on the smaller end of the spectrum. So the size of this giant jellyfish that washed up on the southern shore in Howden where it was discovered by a family enjoying a day at the beach was quite a surprise. While this type of jelly has been seen before, they have not been documented in scientific literature and so technically they are new to science.

The bell of the jellyfish is 1.5 meters (5 feet) wide. Though there is no official word on the length of the tentacles, estimations going off of similarly sized jellies puts the tentacles up to 24 meters (79 feet) long. The discovery was made by the Lim family, out enjoying the beach and collecting shells during the southern hemisphere’s summer. Twelve-year-old Xavier spotted the beached jellyfish. Because approximately 94% of a jellyfish’s body is water, the remaining 6% just looks like a big puddle of snot on the beach.

Xavier says he did touch the jellyfish and reported that it was “pretty cool.” Fortunately, he did not get stung. Many jellyfish have the ability to sting for some time after they have died, which makes it important to be vigilant while walking on beaches. This species of jellyfish is likely not incredibly venomous and though the sting would not be life-threatening, it would definitely hurt. This jellyfish is likely related to the Lion's Mane jellyfish, which is possibly the largest species of jellyfish in the oceans.

Jellyfish expert Dr. Lisa-Ann Gershwin of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) collected the specimen, that she says is one of the biggest ever seen in Tasmania and could rival the largest ever discovered in other Australian states. She has already picked out a name for the jellyfish, but will withhold the announcement until it is officially classified; a process that can take months of peer review.

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