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Discovering Something New

Posted on October 29, 2017 by in The OFI Blog

Bay nettle

The differences between Sea Nettle and Bay Nettle

Keith Bayha, a research associate at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), helped uncover that a sea nettle jellyfish is actually two different distinct species. Sea nettle jellyfish can be found in the Chesapeake Bay and also along the East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. Sea nettle jellyfish in these places have seen as the same species for over a century. However a paper recently published in Journal PeerJ shows that sea nettle jellyfish found in Chesapeake Bay are a different, though related, species from those found in the open ocean.

While Bayha was collecting jellyfish off the coast of Delaware as part of his fieldwork, he noticed that some of the jellyfish were much bigger than anything he had seen before. He took samples back to NMNH and, after some genetic testing, revealed that these jellyfish were actually different than those found nearby in Chesapeake Bay. Further research led to the discovery that there are two different species- an open-ocean based species (sea nettle) and a bay-based species (bay nettle). The bay nettle is the one that has been newly recognized previously thought to be the same as the ocean nettle.

Recently the Smithsonian Insider published an article about Keith Bayha and his discovery.

You can read the article for yourself here.