One of the largest deep-sea jellyfish in its genus has been discovered

Atolla reynoldsi’s tentacles are frequently seen coiled in addition to lacking the hypertrophied tentacle.

Built by volunteers: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Jeff Reynolds guarded a beached whale on Del Monte Beach overnight in 1980, four years before the Aquarium’s official opening, so that it could be retrieved and ready for an overhead exhibit.

“This is such an honor to have this new species named after me. It also honors all the fantastic Aquarium volunteers over the decades. I was just the lucky one to be there so early on,” said Jeff Reynolds.

“Volunteering and working for the aquarium for 42 years was just such an awesome and rewarding experience. It was especially wonderful being taken in as a 16-year-old kid by mentors like [aquarium co-founder] Steve Webster and Tom Williams to just do whatever needed being done at the moment, from vacuuming the floor to caring for stranded sea otter pups to assisting with whale necropsies to building exhibit models.”

Monterey Bay Aquarium is still a non-profit, and most of its employees work on a voluntary basis.

Study abstract

We have observed and collected unusual specimens of what we recognize as undescribed types of the genus Atolla over the past 15 years. Of these, there appear to be three potentially different types. One of these has now been genetically sequenced and compared both morphologically and molecularly with five other Atolla species that have been found in the eastern Pacific. This new variant is so morphologically distinct from other previously described Atolla species that we believe it can be described as a new species, Atolla reynoldsi sp. nov. This species along, with two additional types, may comprise a new genus. It is also clear that a more accurate and diagnostic morphological key for the genus Atolla needs to be developed. This paper will also provide some potential starting points for a new key to the genus.

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