‘Snotty’ 1.5 Metre Monster Invades Tasmanian Shore

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By Athena Yenko | February 7, 2014 2:34 PM EST

The Lim family were enjoying the Tasmanian beach as they were collecting shells. Everything seemed ordinary until they came across a 'snotty' 1.5 metre monster lying by the shore.

At CSIRO, Dr Lisa-ann Gershwin, for ten years now, had been hearing stories about this mysterious monster, she identified as jellyfish, invading the waters of Tasmania.

The Lim family took a photograph of the monster and sent it over to CSIRO.

Ms Gershwin had been studying three species of jellyfish for twenty years now - these species were unknown to science before. She had obtained samples of the two species and had officially named them. The third specie was hard to pin down - until she received the photo from the Lim Family.

"The thing that I first said when I saw it [the photograph] was 'Phwoar'. It's a very scientific term," Dr Gershwin told The Sydney Morning Herald.

"I'm just rapt by it, honestly. It's such an amazing find."

The monstrous, snotty jellyfish was white-ish in colour with a pink in the middle and only seen to Tasmanian shore during summer.

"Probably about five years ago I finally put together in my head that there were really three different species of lion's mane jellyfish in Tasmania, or 'snotties' as they're also called. Yes snotties, they're a bit slimy. All of a sudden I started getting all these calls, and all these people sending me photographs. Sure enough this thing is an absolute menace this season; it's been around in large numbers. It boggles the mind. I mean, it's so big. I knew that the species gets fairly large, but I didn't know that it gets that large. It was really a surprise to me when they forwarded the photo to me. There are muscular features and tentacle features and structural features of the animal that are distinctive in this species from other lion's manes, or snotties," Ms Gershwin said.

Ms Gershwin said that she already had a name ready for the third jellyfish but it will remain a secret pending a process that will formally name the species.

"There's a funny thing in science where, if you use a name publicly before going through the formal classification process, it kind of invalidates the name.The next stop from here is to get the critter formally named and classified. Because I've got all three new species of lion's manes from southern Tasmania, I'm going to describe them together in the same paper."

Now the case of the mysterious jellyfish had been solved, scientists were left with another big question to answer: why there had been invasion of jellyfish in Tasmanian over the past months.

"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. Jellyfish do bloom as a normal part of their life cycle, but not usually this many. There's something going on and we don't know what it is. To me, the real question is ... what impact are all of these mouths having on the ecosystem, and what in turn does that mean to us?"

Australia would just have to wait...

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