Meet Atolla reynoldsi, a new species of jellyfish just discovered by Monterey Bay Aquarium Researchers, who has 26-39 tentacles, and spends its life 10,000 feet below water.
In today's episode of Jellyfish Being Weird Little Guys, we learn of a new species of jellyfish discovered in the depths of Monterey Bay. The species currently believed to only exist in the waters of Monterey Bay, a remarkable phenomenon the Chronicle reports was discovered by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, the scientific research arm of the Monterey Bay Aquarium that operates two research vessels out of Moss Landing.
Here is the video of the little sucker, who is indeed small. Live Science describes the new species Atolla reynoldsi as “about 5 inches (13 centimeters) in diameter,” and “not much wider than a dollar bill.” Yet this is one of the largest of the Atolla family of deep-sea crown jellyfish, and “can have anywhere from 26 to 39 tentacles” according to that publication.
"These remarkable new jellies underscore how much we still have to learn about the deep sea," research specialist George Matsumoto said in a statement. "On just about every dive into the depths of Monterey Bay, we learn something new."
It is believed that the Atolla reynoldsi is only found in Monterey Bay, though Atolla jellyfish relatives are found in waters all over the world. This one, named for former Monterey Bay Aquarium volunteer Jeff Reynolds, proved difficult to discover, because these jellyfish spend their lives at depth between 3,000 and 10,000 feet.
This new species of jellyfish was actually first discovered 15 years ago, but scientists cannot immediately declare a new species. The specimen may just be a biological freak or a one-off, they have to prove there are other animals with the same unique characteristics and similar DNA. This team found about a dozen more in Monterey Bay over the years.
And the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute had found quite a few new species before, as the Chronicle notes, “it has discovered and named 225 species over 34 years.”
Related: Moment of Zen: Watch the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Live Jellyfish Cam [SFist]
Image: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute