A fascinating natural phenomenon that has not yet been fully understood by scientists has been captured on camera for the first time last year. Taken somewhere off the coast of Australia’s Byron Bay, the amazing photograph shows an entire fish trapped inside a jellyfish.
Rare as it, the phenomenon was captured almost accidentally by local photographer Tim Samuel, while free diving with fellow videographer Fanny Plumridge. Since it was posted on Reddit earlier this week, the image has gone viral. No surprise there! What is perhaps more intriguing is the fact that the fish actually seems to be propelling its host forward, controlling its direction of motion almost like a driver. Speaking about the image, Samuel wrote:
I knew I had stumbled upon something pretty special, but I didn’t realize no one had photographed this behavior before, and I haven’t heard of anyone ever seeing this before… The fish was trapped in there, but controlled the jellyfish’s movement. The jellyfish would knock him off course though, and every now and then it would get stuck swimming in circles.
Although the exact species of the fish and the jellyfish are not yet known, Ian Tibbetts, an expert on fish biology at the University of Queensland, believes that the jellyfish is some kind of stinging jellyfish, also known as cubomedusan. The fish seems to be a small trevally that, according to Tibbetts, appears to have ended up inside the jellyfish intentionally, and not by accident. As Tibbetts explains, young trevally are known to look for shelter inside certain species of stinging jellyfish, in order to protect themselves from predators. Tibbetts stated:
It’s difficult to tell whether disaster has just struck, or whether the fish is happy to be in there. Although by the photographer’s description of the fish swimming, my guess is that it is probably quite happy to be protected in there.
It is obvious that the fish is too big to be actually eaten by the jellyfish, especially since the latter kind usually prefers to have small organisms, like fish eggs, plankton or brine shrimp, in its stomach. This in turn means that the fish is preventing its hosting from feeding. Or at least that is what scientists believe, since it might be possible there is some other kind of symbiotic behavior going on in this case. Samuel added:
I contemplated freeing the fish as I felt bad for it, but in the end decided to just let nature run its course, which was a difficult decision for me to make. I don’t know what happened to them.