Jellies Galore


Jellies Galore:

Dr Lisa-ann Gershwin is a research scientist with the Marine Resources & Industries group at CSIRO Oceans & Atmosphere. She first camer to Australia in 1998 on a Fulbright Scholarship to study jellyfish blooms, and has since risen to become on of the world’s foremost experts on jellies.

Lisa has extensive experience with all aspects of jellyfish science, including their biology, ecology, evolution, toxinology, and safety, as well as broad knowledge of pelagic invertebrates and bioluminescence. In particular, she has a strong interest in marine invertebrate taxonomy, pest dynamics, and beach safety, with expertise on nine classes in three phyla of jellyfish. In her last 25 years of research, she has discovered over 200 new species in 6 phyla (mostly jellyfish and other pelagic invertebrates, plus one species of dolphin(!); about 70 of these species are published already, with the rest in various stages of preparation). In this time, she has also published over 70 peer-reviewed papers, two best-selling books, four field guides, and dozens of industry reports; secured nearly $1m in funding; given two invited TEDx talks; and built a portfolio of extensive media experience. Lisa’s work is strongly stakeholder- and community-focused, and she is passionately committed to inspiring young scientists and communicating the ‘wow’ of the natural world to non-scientists.

We invite you to enjoy a a curated selection of Lisa’s favourite jellyfish.


Pelagia – the Purple People Eater – stingy, highly bioluminescent, and purple – what more could you ask for?

Credit – Lisa-Ann Gershwin


Carukia barnesi – this is the life-threatening “Common Irukandji”, which periodically swarms in tropical waters during the summer.
Its sting causes a debilitating illness with severe pain, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting, and a feeling of impending doom.
Similar species are found around the world.

Credit – Lisa-Ann Gershwin


Leucothea – the ‘Rainbow Jellyfish’ makes iridescent flashes by refraction of light through cilia used for locomotion.
The body is covered in flexible, gelatinous sensory papillae. It is common in Tasmanian waters.

Credit – Lisa-Ann Gershwin

Porpita – the splendid Blue Button lives at the air-water interface in tropical and subtropical waters of the ocean, pushed around by winds.
It is preyed upon by Sea Lizards (a type of sea slug), which deposit the undischarged stinging cells in their own tissues for defence.
The yellowish sand grain-looking dots are its tiny babies that were shed during study.

Credit – Lisa-Ann Gershwin


Rhizophysa – otherwise known as the ‘Long Stingy Stringy Thingy’, this is possibly the most aptly-named organism in existence.
Like corals, each “individual” is actually a colony. Relaxed, the colony can stretch to almost a metre long!
The bubble holds concentrated carbon monoxide, and the colony can burp out air when it wants to sink.

Credit – Denis Riek


Solmundella – this quizzical-looking jellyfish is normally found in the deep sea, but is also sometimes ‘upwelled’ into shallow water.
It has only two tentacles, which are stiff and are carried in front of the animal like battering rams rather than trailing behind.

Credit – Lisa-Ann Gershwin

Bazinga – Bazinga’s common name is… well… ‘Bazinga’! Named after Sheldon Cooper’s tag line in TV’s The Big Bang Theory, Bazinga means “haha, gotcha!” or “fooled you!”
It was discovered hiding in plain sight off the northern New South Wales coast, resembling juveniles of another species.

Credit – Denis Riek


Zygocanna – the ‘Zigzag Jellyfish’ forms the unusual zigzag pattern on the top of the bell (body) with a series of hollow tubes radiating from the centre. Their function is unknown.
This species is new to science and has not yet been classified.

Credit – Lisa-Ann Gershwin