Hong Kong researchers discover new box jellyfish species-Xinhua

Hong Kong researchers discover new box jellyfish species

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-04-18 22:12:45

HONG KONG, April 18 (Xinhua) -- Hong Kong scientists have discovered a new species of box jellyfish in Mai Po Nature Reserve in northern Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) said on Tuesday.

It was the first discovery of a new box jellyfish species from the waters of China. A paper describing the new species was published in the international academic journal Zoological Studies in March.

The new jellyfish species was named Tripedalia maipoensis, or Mai Po Tripedalia, by the research team, which was led by Qiu Jianwen, professor from the Department of Biology at HKBU.

According to Qiu, the new species had been named to reflect its type locality, where the new species was first found.

From 2020 to summer 2022, the research team collected jellyfish samples from a brackish shrimp pond in Mai Po Nature Reserve, and found that the samples contained a new species.

"Although the new species is currently known only in Mai Po, we believe that it is also distributed in the adjacent waters of the Pearl River Estuary (in southern China's Guangdong province), as the brackish shrimp ponds are connected to the estuary through a tidal channel," Qiu said.

Box jellyfish are a small group with only 49 species reported worldwide, and are even poorly known in Chinese marine waters, Qiu said.

"Our discovery of Tripedalia maipoensis in Mai Po, which is a relatively well-studied area in Hong Kong, highlights the rich diversity of marine life in Hong Kong and even the whole of China," Qiu said.

The new species, as most other species of box jellyfish, has a transparent, colorless body and three tentacles at each of its four corners. A flat pedal-shaped structure at the base of each tentacle that looks like a boat paddle, allows box jellyfish to produce strong thrusts when contracting bodies, thus making them swim faster than other kinds of jellyfish.

Named for its cube-shaped body, the box jellyfish, or scientifically known as class Cubozoa, includes some of the highly venomous marine animals that are widely known in the tropical waters.

The newly discovered Tripedalia maipoensis belongs to the family Tripedaliidae of the class Cubozoa and is the fourth described species of Tripedaliidae around the world.