Top 10 Interesting Big Red Jellyfish Facts

When researchers discovered a fascinating large ocean creature in the early 21st century, they had no other choice than to name it after its peculiar appearance.

This remarkable jellyfish has features that baffled even the most experienced scientists who first laid eyes upon it.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about the Big Red Jellyfish, one of the countless mysteries of the deep ocean.

1. It’s the only member of a genus of jellyfish

Tiburonia is a type of jellyfish that is commonly referred to as the “Big Red Jellyfish.” The species are known as the “Tiburonia granrojo.”

This creature has only been discovered in 2003. As of today, it’s still a unique ocean animal because it’s the only member of the genus Tiburonia.

Big Red Jellyfish facts
Close view of this fascinating deep-sea creature / Wiki Commons

2. The discovery also created a completely new subfamily

The genus Tiburonia was placed inside a family of jellyfish known as the Ulmaridae. This consists of 13 different types of genera of jellyfish.

Because the big red jellyfish didn’t fit into one of these genera, an entirely new subfamily was established called the Tiburoniinae.

This subfamily was established shortly after it was first discovered in the year 2003 and the Tiburonia granrojo remains the only species in it.

3. The animal got its name from a vehicle that was named after sharks

The operation that led to the discovery of this remarkable species of jellyfish named Tiburonia granrojo was led by researcher George Matsumoto.

He is part of a non-profit research institution named MBARI or the “Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.”

Thye used an ROV or “remotely operated underwater vehicle” to scour around Monterrey Bay, a bay in California, at extreme depths.

This vehicle was called “Tiburon,” the Spanish word for “Shark.” This means that the actual name for this jellyfish is actually “big red shark.”

ROV in the ocean
Detail of an ROV used during the discovery of the jellyfish / Wiki Commons

4. The original name of this new species wasn’t very flattering

An ROV is really an amazing piece of equipment. Not only allows it scientists to remotely explore the deep parts of the ocean, but it also has great maneuverability.

This allowed the baffled scientists to really take a good look at this peculiar gelatinous creature floating around at extreme depths.

Because of this, it was also clear that this isn’t the best-looking creature in the ocean. This is the reason why it was initially referred to as “Big Ugly.”

This isn’t the best-sounding name so it was quickly changed. After all, goblin sharks, giant isopods, and deep-sea dragonfish are pretty terrifying mingers as well.

big red jellyfish appearance
One of the jellyfish being examined / Wiki Commons

5. How deep in the ocean does the Big Red Jellyfish occur?

The main reason why this species of jellyfish was only discovered in the year 2003 is the fact that they live at extreme depths.

The big red jellyfish has been found exclusively at depths of between 600 and 1,500 meters (2,000 and 4,900 feet).

It’s simply impossible for human beings to go this deep due to the extreme pressure. Luckily, the ROV is able to go this deep and capture some amazing up-close footage.

Tiburonia detail
Detail of the creature’s tentacles / Wiki Commons

6. Where does this type of jellyfish live?

One of the most remarkable facts about the big red jellyfish is that only about two dozen of these animals have been found.

Equally fascinating is that they have been found in multiple major oceans all around the world.

This includes Monterey Bay (where they were discovered) and the Gulf of California in the Pacific Ocean, and the areas around Hawaii and Japan.

7. How big is the Tiburonia granrojo?

Jellyfish come in all shapes and sizes but they usually don’t exceed half a meter (1.64 feet) in diameter.

This particular jellyfish is extremely unusual because they have been recorded with a diameter of up to 76 centimeters (30 inches).

We can only imagine how excited the team at MBARI must have been when they saw the first footage of this fascinating animal in the deep sea.

How big is the big red jellyfish
Detailed view of the huge jellyfish / Wiki Commons

8. They probably suffer from a specific deep-sea condition

It’s estimated that jellyfish have been around for at least 500 million years. Some scientists even suggest they have been living in the world’s oceans for up to 700 million years.

Just like the giant isopod, it has therefore been suggested that they have developed a particular deep-sea condition called “deep-sea gigantism.”

As the name of the condition suggests, creatures suffering from it grow much bigger than their counterparts living in shallower waters.

A combination of multiple elements causes this, including the lack of light, food scarcity, and the absence of predators.

The giant isopod
The giant isopod also suffers from this condition / Wiki Commons

9. They have a special feature not found in other jellyfish

One of the most distinctive features of most jellyfish is the tentacles that trail their umbrella-shaped bodies. These are also feared features because they are equipped with stinging cells.

One of the deadliest creatures in the ocean is an extremely small type of jellyfish called the Irukandji jellyfish.

Remarkable, the big red jellyfish doesn’t have these tentacles and instead has 4 to 7 thick fleshy oral arms instead.

This separates them from all other species in the Ulmaridae family and is why an entirely new subfamily was created.

10. We know relatively little about this creature because of a specific reason

Only two dozen individuals have been observed so far, and only one small individual has been brought back to the surface for more research.

This specimen was retrieved around Japan and it was also a juvenile. It had a diameter of not even 15 centimeters (inches) and has been placed in the National Science Museum in Tokyo.

Not much more than the fact that they have only been found in waters with a temperature of between 2.7 and 4.9 °C (36.87 and 40.82 °F) and in saline levels between 34.1–34.5 PSU isn’t known about them.

One thing is sure, Tiburonia granrojo is far from the final secret that the ocean will unveil!

tiburonia granrojo Tentacle
Detail of the tentacle / Wiki Commons