Australian scientists are trying to classify a mysterious “snot-like” species of giant jellyfish after a family took a photo of one that washed up on the shore in Tasmania.
The 5-foot-long specimen is one of three species of “snotties,” the biggest jellyfish species, also known as lion’s mane because of their resemblance to the fur of the king of the savanna, USA Today reports.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) scientist Lisa-ann Gershwin believes the creature is the only one of its kind in the Tasmanian waters.
"It's a whopper. We do get large jellyfish, and this one just happened to be this absolutely enormous specimen," Gershwin, who has been studying jellyfish for 20 years, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. in an interview.
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Reports of the jellyfish invading the island beaches increased over the summer, Gershwin said.
"Jellyfish do bloom as a normal part of their life cycle, but not usually this many," Gershwin told the Sydney Morning Herald. "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?"
The giant “snot” jellyfish was discovered and photographed by the Lim family on a beach at Howden, south of Hobart, Tasmania.
"I kind of touched it," said 12-year-old Xavier Lim. "It was pretty cool."
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The jellyfish is not dangerous, but it can sting.
"If you touched it or whacked into when you were swimming it is very painful," Dr Gershwin said. "It's not life-threatening, but it will sting you, it will wake you up."