Oh Joy: Warty Jellyfish Reaches Israel

The charmingly-named warty comb jelly doesn't sting, though.

Zafrir Rinat
Zafrir Rinat
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The warty comb jellyfish, photographed off Shave Zion: Don't worry, it doesn't sting.
The warty comb jellyfish, photographed off Shave Zion: Don't worry, it doesn't sting.Credit: Shevy Rothman, Tel Aviv University
Zafrir Rinat
Zafrir Rinat

A new and impressive creature has been spotted recently near the shores of the eastern Mediterranean Sea — but it is not dangerous to bathers like its stinging cousin, the jellyfish known as the medusa.

The gelatinous organisms are a species known as a warty comb jelly (Leucothea multicornis) and have already been found near the beaches of Ashdod and Shavei Zion near Nahariya.

The creatures have traditionally been found in the more western parts of the Mediterranean, but have been seen much farther east recently. They can reach a length of 20 centimeters. A different species of the same phylum was found on Israeli shores in 2009, and this was considered to be an invasive species not native to the Mediterranean.

The comb jellies were discovered here during a survey of marine life in the region conducted by Bat-sheva Rothman and Roy Gvili, who found the creature which they did not recognize and sent it to Prof. Bella Galil of the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute for identification. Galil said this was the first spotting of the creature along Israel’s shores.

It is hard to know what are the reasons for the sudden appearance of the creatures in this area. A number of different species of jellyfish not previously found here have appeared along Israeli beaches in recent years. Galil thinks it is possible the appearance is due to ecological changes in the Mediterranean.

The typical jellyfish found on Israeli shores. Unlike the common "medusa," the new species are harmless. Credit: Daniel Bar-On

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