It’s not every day that you come across something truly unique and mysterious. But that’s precisely what happened when a diver captured an incredibly rare jellyfish on camera off the coast of Australia.
The jellyfish in question is a Chirodectes maculatus, also known as the spotted box jellyfish. The specimen is so rare that it’s only been seen twice, with this video being the second time. The diver, who uploaded the clip on Facebook, said that the jellyfish was about the size of a soccer ball and moved very quickly.
The jellyfish’s body is transparent and covered in rings of various sizes. It has four sets of striped tentacles that trail behind it, and a bright red organ inside its bell that’s most likely its gastrovascular cavity.
The box jellyfish is notorious for being one of the most poisonous creatures in the world, with some species capable of causing death in humans. However, C. maculatus is not toxic, making it unique among its family.
“It is not possible to make out all of the characters of the species Chirodectes maculatus from the video (some are internal), but it certainly fits very well based on what one can observe,” said Dr. Allen Collins, a zoologist and curator for the Smithsonian Institute National Museum of Natural History.
The species was initially described in 2005 by Australian scientists working under the direction of Paul Cornelius. The preserved specimen was from 1997, and the scientists resisted breaking it down, limiting their observations to the surface. The jellyfish was previously called Chiropsalmus but was later moved to the recognized genus Chirodectes by another scientist, Lisa-Ann Gershwin.
While the jellyfish’s size is impressive, what’s truly astounding is the fact that it’s only been seen twice. “That something so large and conspicuous in appearance would only be seen twice is pretty surprising,” said Collins. “But that said, a lot of diversity is rare. It tells me that we still have a lot of exploration to undertake.”
The spotted box jellyfish is a testament to how much we still have to learn about the ocean and the creatures that inhabit it. With new discoveries like this, we’re reminded that there’s always something fascinating and mysterious waiting to be uncovered beneath the waves.