First-Ever Video Footage of an Extremely Rare Box Jellyfish
A diver off the coast of Papua New Guinea recorded gorgeous footage of a box jellyfish. On its own, the footage is spectacular but is even more impressive since this is only the second time this species has ever been documented.
The gorgeous jellyfish, which features four groups of striped tentacles that trail behind a translucent body spotted with rings around a bright red core, is called Chirodectes maculatus, Motherboard reports. It is an incredibly uncommon species of box jellyfish found off the coast of Queensland, Australia.
“Saw a new type of jellyfish while diving today. It has cool markings and is a bit bigger than a soccer ball and they are quite fast swimming,” the description on the video reads.
Most box jellyfish are venomous to humans, some extremely so, but this particular species isn’t known to be harmful. It was first described in 2005 by a team of Australian scientists who caught one in 1997 and preserved it. It was classified by another scientist a year later.
While it has been seen before and is not new as the video creator thought, the species is so rare that it hasn’t even been seen more than these two times. This is made even more extraordinary by the fact the footage is so high quality. It very easily could be the best look at the species alive and in its natural habitat that exists.
Speaking to Motherboard, Dr. Allen Collins, a zoologist and curator for the Smithsonian Institute National Museum of Natural History, says that the video shows characteristics that are similar but not identical to the previous description. For example, the description from 2005 says that the creature has spots, while the footage here shows rings.
“I suppose there is always a chance that this specimen is from a closely related but as yet undescribed species of Chirodectes, but I would lean toward it being C. maculatus,” he says.
It is exceptionally unusual to find footage of creatures this rare. Even the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), which is a dedicated research organization, rarely showcases footage of never-before-seen creatures. Even when they do, the specimens tend to be quite small, such as a tiny deep-sea jellyfish spotted in April. The box jellyfish seen above is very large by comparison. The only comparable recent discovery by MBARI would be the giant phantom jellyfish that was spotted last December, and even it had been documented nine times before.