It keeps fascinating me how much we don’t know about the underwater world and how many remarkable species are still being discovered. One of them is a new species of jellyfish that MBARI (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute) recently discovered.
Found in the depths of Monterey Bay, California, the team scientifically described the new species of crown jellyfish. But they also caught it on camera so all of us can enjoy seeing it (and perhaps be slightly terrified by it).
MBARI team explains that the newly-found species belong to the same family as Atolla, which is one of the most common residents of the ocean’s midnight zone. “This deep-sea crown jelly is found worldwide and can be abundant in deep water,” the team writes. Its bell is beautiful scarlet color, and it is very recognizable by one tentacle that is much longer than the rest. However, the new species lacks this recognizable trailing tentacle, so the scientists were curious whether it was a brand new species. And as it turned out – it was.
Interestingly enough, it was fifteen years ago that MBARI researchers first spotted this Atolla-like jellyfish. Other than catching it on camera, they have now published a scientific description of this new species. They named it Atolla reynoldsi in honor of the first volunteer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
“Atolla reynoldsi is relatively large compared to other species of Atolla,” MBARI writes. “The largest specimen MBARI researchers collected was 13 centimeters (5.1 inches) in diameter, making this newly discovered species one of the largest in the genus.”
As I mentioned, I’m fascinated by new discoveries from the deep sea. The creatures I’ve seen so far look like nothing I’ve ever seen before. And there’s so much more to explore, discover, and of course – catch on camera. The scientists warn us, though, that we could lose some of these species forever:
“The ocean is changing rapidly and the same threats that face coastal waters—overfishing, plastic pollution, climate change, and habitat destruction—also extend to the depths below. We must document the diversity of life deep beneath the surface before it becomes lost forever.”