New jellyfish could be an invasive species

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Scientists have discovered a rather beautiful new species of jellyfish in the Gulf of Venice in the Adriatic Sea.

The gold jellyfish began turning up in their thousands in fishing nets last year. No one knew what the 5cm/2in wide jellies were, so photos were sent to scientists at Università del Salento in Lecce, Italy, who confirmed it was a new species.

The jellyfish has been named Pelagia benovici and its discovery is rather surprising as the Adriatic Sea is so well studied. This means it would be virtually impossible for such a conspicuous jellyfish with large population numbers to have remained unnoticed until now.

Researchers think the new species only avoided detection until last year because it is a fairly recent arrival — and probably an invasive species that may have been introduced though a ship’s ballast water system. It's not clear where it originates from, but experts think it could be native to the Indian Ocean, which is less studied but well known for its marine diversity.  

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