As I surfaced from a recent dive on Bari Reef in Bonaire, I noticed that my dive buddy, Mr. Reeftraveler, was lingering in the shallows, seemingly infatuated with something he’d seen in the water. This is a regular occurrence, so I took little notice and began disassembling my gear.
A few minutes later, he surfaced with wide eyes and exclaimed that he’d just seen the most unusual jellyfish of all the jellies he’s spotted in his 35 years of diving around the world. On the pier our friend Michael, who happens to be the beloved authority on all things Bonaire, immediately identified it as the Bonaire Banded Box Jellyfish. Scientific name – Tamoya ohboya. Yes, you read that right (more on its scientific name here).
Officially declared a new species in 2011, Tamoya ohboya is highly venomous. It’s vibrant bronze/yellow/sepia banded tentacles announce its presence, unlike the completely translucent (and relatively harmless) moon jellyfish that commonly speckle shallow coastal waters. This beautiful creature’s flamboyant coloration is a prime example of nature’s warning sign (called aposematic coloration) at work.
Mr. Reeftraveler’s sighting was quite a privilege. Since 1989, only 50 (+/-) sightings of Tamoya ohboya have been confirmed. Most of these sightings have taken place in Bonaire.
Have you been one of the lucky ones to spot Tamoya ohboya? Check back soon for more on this exciting species.