Just where or where did this beautiful jelly come from?
Imagine you’re a fishermen in Chioggia in north-east Italy. It’s autumn, 2013, and you start your day as any other, casting your next for fish. But today is different. You pull up your net to discovery it’s full of golden jellies, the likes of which you’ve never seen before. You alert a researcher at the University of Salento, and soon learn that you’re haul of jellies meant more than just a bad day for catching fish. This jelly is a new species, now known as Pelagia benovici, and no one is quite sure where it came from.
According to lead researcher at University of Salento, Stefano Piraino, finding this jelly “in one of the most investigated marine area of the world (North Adriatic) is comparable to describing a new primate from Central Park, New York”. How is it no one has seen this jelly before? Perhaps because it’s a new arrival.
Stefano Piraino believes this species has arrived in the North Adriatic by hitching a ride with humans. By hiding in the blast water of large boats, or sneaking in with the cargo of an aquaculture species, immigrants of this species may have arrived in small numbers. Slowly, over time, I self sustaining population grew from these first arrivals.
But where in the world is this species normally found? That is the million dollar question. Hopefully as word of this species in the North Adriatic spreads, others ocean-goers will keep their eyes peeled. Surely Chioggia fishermen are not the only ones to note this beautiful jelly in their nets. It would be hard to miss!