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Tasmania's Giant Jellyfish: Family Finds One 5 Feet Around on Beach

Image: Tasmania's Giant Jellyfish: Family Finds One 5 Feet Around on Beach

By Clyde Hughes   |   Thursday, 06 Feb 2014 11:16 AM

A giant jellyfish nearly five feet around was found by an Australian family strolling on a beach in Tasmania.

Australia's agency for scientific research, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, has been trying to classify the species of jellyfish after the family found it in January at Howden, just south of Hobart, reported ABC News Radio.

Officials have reported seeing other giant jellyfish off Tasmania shores and capturing other specimens, according to ABC.

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"It's a whopper," CSIRO scientist Lisa-ann Gershwin told ABC News. "We do get large jellyfish and this one just happened to be this absolutely enormous specimen. I do hear from time to time people tell me 'we found this one that was really big', but this one really is, really big."

Gershwin said the species, even though it has been seen before, is currently not classified.

"(We) finally got specimens this year of it, so it's new to science, but it's not a brand new thing completely out of left field," Gershwin told ABC News. "It's one of these things that really makes us come face-to-face with the fact that there are things we don't know about out there in nature, particularly in the ocean. I love that is was found by kids that they stumbled upon on this thing."

BBC News reported that Josie Lim and her family came across the stranded jellyfish while out on the beach.

"(Lim) and her children found the jellyfish and took this amazing photo that just boggles the mind," Gershwin told BBC News.

"We were at the beach looking for shells and dad was like 'Whoa! Look at that'...I kind of touched it. It was pretty cool," Xavier Lim, 12, said of the giant jellyfish find.

A jellyfish is a water-dwelling, spineless, soft-bodied animal, which uses its tentacles to paralyze and capture prey for food, according to Animal Planet. The jellyfish has a semitransparent, bell-shaped, sac-like body fringed around the bottom edges by slender, dangling tentacles.

"Generally the jellyfish tend to be bigger in the temperate regions rather than in the tropics, so certainly tropical jellyfish would tend to be smaller," Gershwin told ABC News. "I've been in Tassie working with jellyfish for a long time here and I've seen a lot of big jellyfish but this one's really big."

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