Another 'accidentally discovered' pink meanie jellyfish on display at aquarium
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Cape Town – Another pink meanie jellyfish has been discovered and is on display at the Two Oceans Aquarium.
Although this jellyfish has yet to be formally described and given a scientific name, the find by the aquarium team suggests the elusive jelly may be a crucial part of the offshore ecosystem.
As with the first pink meanie, which was discovered accidentally at the aquarium in 2017, the newcomer was also an accidental find.
About a month ago, the collections team and volunteer commercial divers were collecting night-light jellyfish in the waters around Robben Island and in Cape Town Harbour.
“These night-light jellyfish had been washing up in unusually large numbers all around the Western Cape in the previous few months.
“The aquarium saw this as an excellent opportunity to collect a few for display at the aquarium. Little did the team know that their smack of night-light jellies had a tiny stowaway.
"A tiny pink meanie ephyra (the free-swimming baby form of a jellyfish) was hidden among the oral arms of the night-light jellies, and over a few short days, as it grew to meta ephyra (basically a jelly teenager) stage, it consumed all the night-light jellies our team had collected,” said aquarium spokesperson Renée Leeuwner.
The aquarium’s resident jelly expert, Krish Lewis, was thrilled by the discovery, which had previously been dubbed “the unicorn of jellyfish”.
The pink meanie is now on display at the Two Oceans Aquarium in the Jelly Gallery near the I&J Ocean Exhibit.
“Pink meanies are jellyvorous, meaning they feed on other jelly species by reeling them in with their long tentacles. It’s considered the most efficient jellyvorous jelly, as it can digest its prey within two to three hours. Its Mexican cousins have been seen consuming up to 34 other jellies at once.
“We also know that pink meanies are relatively indiscriminate in the species of jellyfish they feed on, relying on large blooms of prey species rather than the specific species itself.
“This pink meanie was taking advantage of the large number of night-light jellies in Table Bay, while our 2017 discovery was found among a bloom of compass jellies.
“We know from experimentation at the Two Oceans Aquarium that pink meanies do not eat other jelly-like animals. In test feeds, both salps and comb jellies have been rejected as food by the pink meanie.
"We’ve found that it only feeds on Scyphozoa (true jellyfish, like compass jellies) and Cubozoa (box jellies),” Leeuwner said.