Scientists examining a bright purple jellyfish that washed up on a Sunshine Coast beach believe it could be a new species.
Scientists believe a vibrant purple jellyfish covered in tiny mouths that has washed up on a Queensland beach could be an undiscovered species.
The extraordinary colour of the marine creature has baffled marine experts, who are now trying to determine what species it is.
“It’s straight out of science fiction,” said marine biologist Dr Lisa Gershwin, who will analyse the jellyfish on Wednesday.
“It’s an electric, vibrant, `wow’ purple.”
She said the tentacles – or oral arms – were about a metre long and were covered in microscopic mouths.
Lifeguards on the Sunshine Coast found the jellyfish at Coolum Beach on Wednesday morning and handed it over to scientists at nearby Underwater World.
Dr Gershwin believed the jellyfish could be a thysanostoma, but said the species was normally brown or beige.
“It begs the question, if it’s such a vibrant, different colour, what other features does it have?” Dr Gershwin, from the CSIRO marine and atmospheric research centre, said.
“When we get it under the microscope I think we’ll start noticing all kinds of things,” she said.
It’s rare to find thysanostoma in Australian waters and even rarer to spot one off Queensland’s southeast coast as they prefer the warmer tropical waters.
Dr Gershwin said the jellyfish was unlikely to pack much of a sting, “although it’s got such an unbelievably loud colour to it that it screams: `don’t mess with me’,” she said.