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Two new jellyfish species recorded in Maltese waters

Two new jellyfish species were recorded in Maltese waters for the first time in recent weeks by the Spot the Jellyfish team.

This brings the number of known jellyfish species in Maltese waters to date to over 20. The two new species are discomedusa lobata, recorded as a single individual at Sliema and neotima lucullana, recorded as a single individual at Qalet Marku.

Alan Deidun, one of the coordinators of the citizen science initiative, said discomedusa lobata is a disc-shaped jellyfish, which can reach a maximum width of 15cm, with the number of tentacles ranging between eight and 40.

The species is known in the Mediterranean, the North Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean and is considered to occur only occasionally in the Mediterranean. However, the same species bloomed and reached very high densities earlier this summer along the coasts of Croatia and Montenegro. Not much is known about its sting, but it is generally considered capable of inflicting painful stings on the same par as the much more common mauve stinger.

Even less information exists concerning on the neotima lucullana – which is a hydromedusa, as is the cigar jellyfish. Even this jellyfish species is not very common in the Mediterranean, where it is mainly known from the Adriatic and the north-western corner of the Basin. The species is presumed to be a stinging one too.

The past few weeks have also seen a massive bloom of the sea lung rhizostoma pulmo, an indigenous mildly-stinging jellyfish species, off the southern coast of Sicily and Puglia in Italy. For some reason, only isolated individuals of the species reach Maltese waters.

The Spot the Jellyfish initiative, which is coordinated by staff at the IOI-MOC at the University of Malta, is supported by the MTA, Nature Trust, Friends of the Earth, SharkLab and the Ekoskola and the Blue Flag Malta programmes.

The initiative follows a citizen science approach. 

Sightings can be reported online, or by sending a text message to 79604109 or to 7922 2278, or an e-mail message to [email protected].

 

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