International researchers have discovered a new species of jellyfish – and for lovers of the ocean it’s not good news.
Hong Kong Baptist University found the new variant of the box jellyfish in a shrimp pond at the Hong Kong Mai Po Nature Reserve after collecting samples between 2020 to 2022.
Lead researcher Professor Qui Jianwen said he was “thrilled” with the discovery.
“It shows the potential of news species in Mai Po where extensive research has been conducted highlighting the potential for more marine life discovery in the Hong Kong waters and even Chinese coastal waters,” he said.
The box jellyfish is one of the most highly venomous marine animals that are usually found in tropical waters.
The species are considered deadly because their tentacles are covered in “biological booby traps known as nematocysts – tiny darts loaded with poison,” according to the National Ocean Service.
It is known for its cube-shaped body with three tentacles at the base of each of its four corners.
Their tentacles are like boat paddles which help them hunt prey, namely shrimp, faster than other kinds of jellyfish.
And remarkablely it has 24 eyes.
Of its 24 eyes, only some are used to form images, while a majority are used to sense light.
Professor Qiu said the team named the new species Tripedalia maipoensis to reflect its type locality – where the new species was first found.
“Although it is currently known only in Mai Po, we believe that this species is also distributed in the adjacent waters of the Pearl River Estuary as the gei wais are connected to the estuary through a tidal channel,” he said.
Professor Qui said the box jellyfish are “poorly known in Chinese marine waters” and that the discovery “highlights the rich diversity of marine life in Hong Kong and even whole of China”.