A rare and fascinating underwater occurrence was captured by Australian ocean photographers Tim Samuel and Franny Plumridge in Byron Bay, off the east coast of Australia. They spotted a yellow fish trapped inside a translucent jellyfish and watched in amazement as the fish used the jellyfish to move through the water.
The photo of the odd couple, initially posted on Instagram by Samuel, recently went viral after it was republished by DiscoverOcean. Researchers are now trying to identify the species of both animals.
The fish’s tail was sticking out of the back of the jellyfish, enabling it to propel the jellyfish forward. Samuel and Plumridge observed the fish inside the jellyfish for over 20 minutes as it swam in circles and knocked the jelly off balance. The duo were stunned by the scene as it was a sight they had never seen before.
The exact species of the fish is still unknown, and experts are uncertain about the jellyfish’s species too. Rob Condon, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, says the jellyfish might be a hydromedusa. Lisa-Ann Gershwin, a jellyfish taxonomist who has discovered about 200 species of jellyfish, is also questioning the jelly’s species. She says the jellyfish looks like a chimera of two different classes, Cubozoa and Scyphozoa, which is quite unusual.
Although it’s “totally normal” for fish to use jellies for feeding, protection, and locomotion, Gershwin is just as perplexed about the photo as she is about the animals.
Samuel considered setting the fish free, but in the end, he decided to let nature take its course. The incredible moment has since captured the imagination of people worldwide.