Two new species of box jellies (Cnidaria: Cubozoa: Carybdeida) from the central coast of Western Australia, both presumed to cause Irukandji syndrome

WA Museum Records | Updated 5 months ago

Abstract: Irukandji jellies are of increasing interest as their stings are becoming more frequently reported around the world. Previously only two species were known from Western Australia, namely Carukia shinju Gershwin, 2005 and Malo maxima Gershwin, 2005, both from Broome. Two new species believed to cause Irukandji syndrome have recently been found and are described herein. One, Malo bella sp. nov., is from the Ningaloo Reef and Dampier Archipelago regions. It differs from its congeners in its small size at maturity, its statolith shape, irregular warts on the perradial lappets, and a unique combination of other traits outlined herein. This species is not associated with any particular stings, but its phylogenetic affi nity would suggest that it may be highly toxic. The second species, Keesingia gigas gen. et sp. nov., is from the Shark Bay and Ningaloo Reef regions. This enormous species is unique in possessing key characters of three families, including crescentic phacellae and broadly winged pedalia (Alatinidae) and deeply incised rhopalial niches and feathery diverticulations on the velarial canals (Carukiidae and Tamoyidae). These two new species bring the total species known or believed to cause Irukandji syndrome to at least 16. Research into the biology and ecology of these species should be considered a high priority, in order to manage their potential impacts on public safety.

Author(s) Lisa-Ann Gershwin Issue Volume 29 (2014) Part Part 1 Page Number 10