An extremely rare species of box jellyfish was sighted off the coast of Queensland, Australia, by divers who filmed the majestic marine creature. This is only the second time this jellyfish has been in front of a camera, and this footage is helping researchers understanding this elusive creature.
The striking video shows four distinct groups of tentacles trailing behind a translucent body covered in ring-shaped spots of various sizes. A bright red organ can be seen inside the center of the bell, which is most likely the gastrovascular cavity, the jellyfish’s primary organ of digestion and circulation.
This huge jellyfish is known as Chirodectes maculatus, which means ‘spotted’ in Latin. It’s a type of box jellyfish, named for its body shape.
Box jellies are famous for having tentacles covered in biological booby traps known as nematocysts – tiny darts loaded with venom. People and animals unfortunate enough to be injected with this venom may experience paralysis, cardiac arrest, and even death, all within a few minutes of being stung. The Australian box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri) is widely considered the most venomous marine animal in the world.
Luckily, the rare Chirodectes maculatus doesn’t seem to be venomous, based on a 2005 study that described a specimen caught and preserved 25 years ago. Initially, this study classified the box jelly as Chiropsalmus, but it was later moved to the genus Chirodectes following other considerations by the scientific community, according to Vice.
“That something so large and conspicuous in appearance would only be seen twice is pretty surprising,” Dr. Allen Collins, a zoologist and curator for the Smithsonian Institute National Museum of Natural History, told Vice Motherboard. “But that said, a lot of diversity is rare. It tells me that we still have a lot of exploration to undertake.”
This is a reminder that there’s much about life in the oceans we still haven’t discovered yet. Who knows what we’ll uncover next?