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New killer stinger species found lurking in marine waters

It's not yet clear how far the jellyfish's territory extends.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, a new species of deadly jellyfish has been discovered.

The fast-swimming creature was identified as a type of box jellyfish, a class comprising around 50 of the world's most venomous marine creatures.

With Australia already home to some of the world's most dangerous animals, the Hong Kong Baptist University-led team has brought what might be some welcome news.

Women standing at the edge of a Chinese beach
A new species of box jellyfish has never been discovered in China's vast territorial waters before. Source: Getty (File)

It confirmed with Yahoo News Australia that Tripedalia maipoensis has so far only been seen in Hong Kong’s Mai Po Nature Reserve. “We are not sure if there's any in Australia,” a spokesperson said.

What’s special about this jellyfish?

  • It’s the first discovery of a new box jellyfish species in China

  • The species has a flat “pedal-shaped structure” on each tentacle for propulsion

  • It’s closely related to species found in Jamaica, Florida, Singapore, Australia, and India

Video shared by researchers shows the creatures being hauled from the murky waters by researchers, then analysed under a microscope. Slides reveal they have 24 eyes, which are located into groups of six. Two are used for image sensing, while the other four detect light.

Lead researcher Professor Liu Jianwen said box jellyfish are “poorly known” in Chinese marine waters, and he believes the discovery signifies “rich diversity” of marine life around Hong Kong. The find was published in the journal Zoological Studies.

Is it possible box jellyfish could reach Sydney?

As water temperatures increase around the globe, highly venomous marine stingers are expected to conquer new territory.

In February, Yahoo News Australia reported a warning that box jellyfish will likely migrate as far south as Sydney if waters continue to warm.

Two images of the tiny box jellyfish.
These tiny jellyfish belong to one of the world's deadliest classes of marine creatures. Source: Hong Kong Baptist University

Across Far North Queensland and the Northern Territory swimmers are advised to wear stinger suits in summer to avoid being struck by tentacles from deadly marine life. The Australian species is known to have killed at least 79 people.

Tiny blue dragon sea slugs have also been reported in high numbers across the Gold Coast, Newcastle and Bondi beaches in recent years, with scientists believing the strong onshore winds from La Niña were responsible.

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