Though pretty dead, hold on to your hats for the live ones…
This purple jelly recently washed ashore in Queensland, Australia. What is it? A Thysanostoma jelly, and these guys are stunning. Check out these photos submitted by a citizen scientists at jellywatch.org
We know very little about these jellies, including what they eat and where they live most of the time. We do know that Thysanostoma are part of a group of jellies called Rhizostomes, which means they have have hundreds, possibly thousands, of mouths. Rhizostome jellies don’t have a single mouth opening, but instead lots of tiny openings spread over those long tendrils hanging off the bell. They use these tiny mouths to filter water and plankton. This is a good clue to how Thysanostoma make a living–they’re probably filter feeders.
Is the new jelly washed ashore a new species? Without getting a better look, it’s impossible to know. Not all Thysanostoma are so vivid, but that doesn’t mean much. Jellies, like people, can come in a huge range of colors. Let’s hope this recent interest in Thysanostoma inspires more research on this mysterious group of jellies!