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Arrival of traveling invasive jellyfish could just be the beginning of disruption

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Posted at 10:12 AM, Jul 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-04 11:12:02-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Australian Spotted Jellyfish is not native to the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean. It's rare spotting this weekend in the Coastal Bend caught the eye of the Padre Island National Seashore.

The jellyfish is brown with white polka dots all over, which looks different than local jellyfish.

"It comes from the Australian/ Indo-Pacific region and probably hitched a ride with a ship moving commerce back and forth," President of the Texas State Aquarium Jesse Gilbert said.

He said although its venom is not toxic to humans, that doesn't mean it's not a threat.

"When you have an animal that's not from this area, it starts to consume a lot of the same food that some of the other animals eat. So you're starting to see an imbalance in the ecosystem. One imbalance in the ecosystem can cause an issue," Gilbert said.

Issues Gilbert refers to are depleting the food source for native marine life.

These jellyfish feed on zooplankton, which could cause a problem finding food for other jellyfish, fish, and birds.

The Australian Spotted Jellyfish also tend to travel in groups, meaning more could soon be on the way,

"Jellyfish can't really propel themselves that well, so they really depend on the current. So as the wind and the currents change, you might see more on the beaches of Texas," Gilbert said.

Although they disrupt and harm our local marine wildlife, Gilbert said there is no way to get rid of them.

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