New species of box jellyfish discovered in Hong Kong

A new species of box jellyfish have been discovered in Hong Kong’s Mai Po Nature Reserve. The jellyfish has a transparent, colorless body and three tentacles at each of its four corners, with paddle-like structures that allow it to swim quickly. It has been named Mai Po Tripedalia after the place where it was found.

The matured version of Tripedalia maipoensis, the newly discovered box jellyfish species.

A Hong Kong university team said it has discovered a new species of box jellyfish in the city’s Mai Po Nature Reserve, the first discovery of the venomous species in China’s waters. Baptist University (HKBU) together with WWF-Hong Kong, Ocean Park Hong Kong and the University of Manchester said on Tuesday that the team collected jellyfish samples from a brackish shrimp pond over 2020-2022 and found they contained a new species.

Named Tripedalia maipoensis in reflection of its locality, it has a cube-shaped, colorless body with 24 eyes. It has tentacles up to 10cm long that resemble boat paddles, allowing it to produce strong thrusts, making the species swim faster than other kinds of jellyfish, the study said. Qiu Jianwen, a professor at the Department of Biology at HKBU, said although the species is currently only known in Mai Po, the team believes the species is also distributed in the adjacent waters of the Pearl River Estuary.

The new species of box jelly fish, Tripedalia maipoensis, has tentacles up to 10cm long. (Supplied: Hong Kong Baptist University)

Box jellyfish “are poorly known in Chinese marine waters,” he said. “It is the first discovery of a new box jellyfish in Chinese coastal waters.” “Our discovery of Tripedalia maipoensis in Mai Po — a relatively well-studied area in Hong Kong — highlights the rich diversity of marine life in Hong Kong and even the whole of China,” he said.

Box jellyfish, scientifically known as class Cubozoa, includes some of the highly venomous marine animals that are widely known in tropical waters, the study said.

The tripedalia maipoensis juvenile. (Supplied: Hong Kong Baptist University)

There are 49 species reported worldwide, however, in Australia, the most well-known and deadly species are the chironex fleckeri, which can grow tentacles up to 3m long, and the minute Irukandji species, which is just 2cm in diameter, with tentacles up to 35cm. A sting from either species requires urgent medical attention.

Source: ABC

Exit mobile version