A “magnificent” jellyfish has been spotted by a scuba diver off the coast of Papua New Guinea which could be a new species.
Experts suspect that the creature may never have been seen before, despite initially believing it was a variety that had been spotted just once in 1997.
The owner of Scuba Ventures in Kavieng in the New Ireland province of Papua New Guinea, Dorian Borcherds, was out for a swim when he came across his remarkable find.
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“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,” he said on social media.
He’s been diving in the area for more than 20 years but was taken aback by the unusual markings on a group of around three jellyfish he saw.
He and his daughter uploaded the footage he had taken to The Jellyfish App, which helps people identify fish they find.
Mr Borcherds said: “I thought it was interesting as I had never seen one of these before, so I sent [the video] to my daughter who downloaded a jellyfish app.
“It couldn’t be identified, so she uploaded the footage to the app and within half an hour she had a very excited jellyfish expert on the phone from Tasmania.”
The Jellyfish App was co-founded by Dr Lisa-ann Gershwin, a jellyfish expert at Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services.
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She initially believed that Mr Borcherds’ video was the second sighting of a variety first spotted nearly 25 years ago called Chirodectes maculatus, which was seen in the Great Barrier Reef.
Since then though, she’s had a change of heart. Speaking to the Independent, she said: “I was complete[ly] gobsmacked when they sent me through the photos.
“I thought, oh my God, what is this thing and where is it? This species was only spotted once on the Great Barrier Reef in the 1990s.”
The original 1997 jellyfish has been stored at the Queensland Museum in Brisbane, where experts worked with Dr Gershwin and together concluded that the creature was larger and had different markings.
Her paper on the "new" species is waiting to be verified by other scientists.
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