There’s something surprising lurking in a Saanich lake: craspedacusta jellyfish.
The slimy, transparent visitor that is no bigger than a thumbnail and now swims in the waters of a Killarney Lake in the Mount Work Regional Park.
“We discovered these beautiful, little jellyfish, and there’s so many of them,” said the University of British Columbia graduate and marine biologist Florian Lueskow.
Lueskow was trying to find jellyfish in B.C. when he starting receiving numerous reports and pictures of the non-native species, sent from locals in the area, wondering what they were.
The discovery has biologists dumbfounded because they say, this species most likely came all the way from the Yangtze River catchment area in China.
“It’s a warm-water species, so that’s why its surprising it can come all the way to British Columbia where winters can be very cold,” explained Lueskow.
The lake is also not near any public access points. The closest access is a 1.1 kilometre, uphill hike.
“Did it travel as unwanted guests, maybe on the feet of ducks?” said Lueskow. “Maybe water plants were transferred from one lake to another? There’s no definite answer. We don’t really know.”
Lueskow said it’s unlikely these clear, little creatures will stay put, as there are many other bodies of freshwater nearby.
“If there are neighbouring lakes which there are, it’s likely they’ll be infected in the near future or they already have been infected,” said Lueskow.
These jellyfish don’t sting, But they are classified as an invasive species according to Lueskow.
“How is it impacting fish stocks? Is it competing with fish is it grazing on lower trophic levels? Maybe it’s a friend to the biodiversity, maybe they’re not?” said the scientist.
The Capital Regional District told CHEK News that since the jellyfish are not a danger to humans, they are waiting to see what information will come from the study before taking any action, if any, is needed.
The marine biologist says learning about craspedacusta jellyfish is difficult, as they only surface every so often.
He is asking anyone with pictures or sightings to send them to his email at [email protected].
Leuskow and his team will be studying the little jellyfish until mid-October.