Towards an unravelling of the taxonomy of Chrysaora (Scyphozoa; Semaeostomeae; Pelagiidae) from around South Africa
Historically, two species of Chrysaora are known from the Benguela Current Ecosystem: C.fulgida (Reynaud 1830) and C. africana (Vanhöffen 1902). However a third morphotype is now seen, which bears a resemblance to both. Thus a complete qualitative and quantitative analysis of the morphometric and meristic data of these three species was conducted, along with an in depth study into the cnidome as a potential tool of identification. These findings are supplemented by a genetic analysis using cytochrome c oxidase subunit I and internal transcribed spacer 1 gene markers. Three species were unambiguously identified. The genetics and morphology showed considerable divergence, with some of the features used to separate them including: tentacle number and shape, colouration and shape of the oral arm, shape of the gastrovascular pouches and the number and shape of the marginal lappets. Although the mtDNA indicated clear separation of the three Chrysaora, the nucDNA displayed some ambiguity. The cnidome showed considerable divergence and succeeded in separating these species, while the rhopalia of the three species also showed distinct differences in the lengths of the rhopalal canals and basal stems. Much of the confusion surrounding jellyfish taxonomy has been the result of observations made on predominantly preserved specimens that are in subpar quality, a hinderence which this study endeavored to overcome.