The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Phyllorhiza punctata
Phyllorhiza punctata
(Australian spotted jellyfish)

Copyright Info
Phyllorhiza punctata von Lendenfeld 1884

Common name: Australian spotted jellyfish

Synonyms and Other Names: Mastigias ocellatus Modeer, 1791; Mastigias albipunctatus Stiasny, 1920; Mastigias andersoni Stiasny, 1926; Mastigias scintillae Soares Moreira, 1961; Cotylorhiza pacifica Mayer, 1915; Cotylorhizoides pacificus Light, 1921

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: The following description is taken from Graham et al. (2003) who provided a specific diagnosis of northern Gulf of Mexico (GOM) populations. The umbrella is nearly semi-spherical, about half as high as broad, and punctuated by white crystalline inclusions giving the appearance of spots; the eight radial canals communicate directly with the stomach; there are 8 rhopalia; 14 lappets are found in each octant of the umbrella.  Although zooxanthellae are associated with this species in other regions of the world, these algal symbionts are lacking in GOM specimens. Additional descriptions can be found in Mayer (1910), Kramp (1961), and Mianzan and Cornelius (1999).

Size: Gulf of Mexico medusae are considerably larger than medusae in other described populations. Gulf medusae averaged 45 cm in bell diameter with a maximum reported size of 62 cm (Graham et al. 2003).

Native Range: Phyllorhiza punctata is indigenous to the tropical western Pacific Ocean (Graham et al. 2003).  Heeger et al. (1992) noted that the species had wide distribution in Australian coastal and lagoonal waters and undoubtedly ranged throughout the Indo-Pacific Ocean including the Philippine archipelago.

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Phyllorhiza punctata are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
AL200020002Mississippi Coastal; Mobile Bay
CA198119901San Diego
FL200120092Cape Canaveral; Daytona-St. Augustine
HI194120012Hawaii; Oahu
LA199820055East Central Louisiana Coastal; Eastern Louisiana Coastal; Lower Calcasieu; Northern Gulf of Mexico; West Central Louisiana Coastal
MS199320012Mississippi Coastal; Northern Gulf of Mexico
NC200720225Albemarle; Coastal Carolina; Lower Cape Fear; New River; White Oak River
PR196920073Culebrinas-Guanajibo; Greater Antilles; Southern Puerto Rico
SC200720205Bulls Bay; Carolina Coastal-Sampit; Coastal Carolina; Santee; St. Helena Island
TX200620232North Laguna Madre; West Galveston Bay

Table last updated 7/18/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Means of Introduction: Bioinvasions of scyphozoans usually occur in the sessile polyp stage with ships or other seagoing infrastructure (e.g. towed oil or gas platforms) as vectors.  Spread of  P. punctata throughout the Pacific Ocean and between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea has been attributed to hull-fouling transport of polyps (Larson and Arneson 1990).  Silveira and Cornelius (2000) suggested that P. punctata was introduced into the Atlantic Basin through ship-mediated transport at least 45 years ago. Transport of P. punctata from the Caribbean  Sea to the northern Gulf of Mexico may be the result of natural ocean circulation processes. Similar transport of other Caribbean medusae has occurred via this method (Graham 1998).  Origin of the medusae that invaded northern Gulf of Mexico waters in the summer of 2000 was attributed to circulation processes associated with the Loop Current and its spin-off eddies by Johnson et al. (2004).  Although a small population of  P. punctata has existed in Terrebonne Bay, Louisiana for the past several years, the suddenness and magnitude of the 2000 invasion in conjunction with the arrival size of the medusae suggest that more than local spreading was involved.  An additional argument for the oceanic pathway was the association of Sargassum weed with the arrival of the jellyfish (Graham et al. 2003).  Graham et al. (2003) and Johnson et al. (2004) both acknowledged the possibility of  advection of medusae from a regional source (the Terrebonne Bay population), however, Johnson et al. (2004) noted that the Terrebonne Bay-source hypothesis was not as robust as the Caribbean-source hypothesis.  Recent research comparing molecular and morphological characteristics of P. punctata from around the world has determined that the Caribbean population of P. punctata is, in fact, a member of the genus Mastigias, thus highlighting current confusion regarding the origin of Gulf populations (Graham and Bolton 2004). 

Status: Yearly re-occurrence of  medusae in waters east of the Mississippi River and the maintenance of a population west of the Mississippi River in Terrebonne Bay, Louisiana suggest that populations have been established in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Impact of Introduction:
Summary of species impacts derived from literature review. Click on an icon to find out more...


The 2000 jellyfish invasion in the northern Gulf of Mexico had a direct economic impact on the shrimp fishery (Perry et al. 2000).  Jellyfish clogged shrimp nets, damaged boat intakes and fishing gear, and closed productive areas to fishing activities. There is circumstantial evidence that P. punctata reduced the white shrimp harvest in Mobile Bay, Alabama and Mississippi Sound by 26.7 % (Graham et al. 2003).  Indirect effects include predation on the eggs of important forage species and consumption of bivalve larvae. Graham et al. (2003) noted that consumption of engraulid-type fish eggs (presumably Anchoa mitchilli) was extraordinary and that clearance rates were higher by at least an order of magnitude than for any previously published fish egg clearance rate.  Jellyfish were abundant over commercial oyster reefs in Mississippi Sound and Graham et al. (2003) reported high predation rates on bivalve larvae.  While the 2000 bloom was relatively confined, there is concern that future blooms may occur over broad areas and in specific fish spawning regions.

Remarks: Medusae in the northern Gulf of Mexico are substantially different in size and pigmentation (no zooxanthellae) from populations in other regions (Perry et. al 2000).  Lack of zooxanthellae in Gulf of Mexico populations did not inhibit success in northern Gulf waters and energetic requirements appeared to be met completely  by zooplanktivory (Graham et al. 2003). 

References: (click for full references)

Anonymous, 2001. Exotic invader found in lagoon waters. Indian River Lagoon Update, Fall 2001 Issue, St. Johns River Water Management District.

Carlton, J.T. and J.B. Geller.  1993.  Ecological roulette: the global transport of nonindigenous marine organisms.  Science 261:78-82.

Clarke, T.A. and G.S. Abey.  1998.  The use of small mid-water attraction devices for investigation of the pelagic juveniles of carangid fishes in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.  Bulletin of Marine Science 62(3):947-955.

Devaney, D.M. and L.G. Eldredge.  1977.  Reef and shore fauna of Hawaii.  Section 1.  Protozoa through Ctenophora.  Bishop Museum Special Publication 64: 1-277.

Galil, B.S., E. Spanier, and W.W. Ferguson.  1990. The scyphomedusae of the Mediterranean coast of Israel, including two Lessepsian migrants new to the Mediterranean.  Zoologische Mededelingen (Leiden) 64(7):95-105.

Garcia, J.R. and B. Durbin. 1993.  Zooplanktivorous predation by large scyphomedusae Phyllorhiza punctata (Cnidaria: Scyphozoa) in Laguna Joyuda.  Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 173:71-93.

Graham, W.M. and T.F. Bolton.  2004.  Molecular and morphological comparisons of native and non-native populations of a jellyfish invader.  American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, Summer Meeting, Abstract.

Graham, W.M., D.L. Martin, D.L. Felder, V.L. Asper, and H.M. Perry.  2003.  Ecological and economic implications of a tropical jellyfish invader in the Gulf of  Mexico.  Biological Invasions 5:53-69.

Graham,, W.M.  1998.  First report of Carybdea alata var. grandis (Reynaud 1830) (Cnidaria: Cubozoa) from the Gulf of Mexico.  Gulf of Mexico Science 1998:28-30.

Heeger, T., Piatkowski, U. and Moeller, H.  1992.  Predation on jellyfish by the cephalopod Argonauta argo.  Marine Ecology Progress Series 88:293-296.

Johnson, D.R., H.M. Perry, and W.M. Graham.  2004.  Using nowcast model currents to explore transport of non-indigenous jellyfish into the Gulf of Mexico.  Marine Ecology Progress Series (in press).

Kramp, P.L.  1961.  Synopsis of the medusae of the world.  Journal of the Marine Biological Associations, UK 40:1-469.

Larson, R.J. and A.C. Arneson.  1990.  Two medusae new to the coast of California: Carybdea marsupialis (Linnaeus, 1758), a cubomedusa and Phyllorhiza punctata von Ledenfeld, 1884, a rhizostome scyphomedusa.  Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences 89(3):130-136.

Mayer, A.G.  1910.  Medusae of the World.  Vol. III.  The Scyphomedusae.  Carnegie Institution, Washington, DC.  Pp 499-735.

Mianzan, H.W. and P.F.S. Cornelius.  1999.  Cubomedusae and Scyphomedusae.  In: Boltovskoy, D. (editor), South Atlantic Zooplankton. Pp. 513-559.  Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Perry, H.M., T. Van Devender, W. Graham, D. Johnson, K. Larsen, W.D. Burke, and C. Trigg.  2000.  Diaphanous denizens from down under: first occurrence of Phyllorhiza punctata in Mississippi coastal waters.  Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute Annual Meeting, Biloxi, Mississippi.  November 6-10, 2000. 

Rippingale, R.J. and S.J> Kelly.  1995.  Reproduction and survival of  Phyllorhiza punctata (Cnidaria: Rhizostomeae) in a seasonally fluctuating salinity regime in western Australia.  Marine and Freshwater Research 46:1145-1151.

Silveira, F.L., da and P.F.S. Cornelius.  2000.  New observations on medusae (Cnidaria, Scyphozoa, Rhizostomae) from the northeast and south Brazil,  Acta Biologica Leopoldensia 22:9-18.

Author: Perry, H.

Revision Date: 8/27/2019

Citation Information:
Perry, H., 2024, Phyllorhiza punctata von Lendenfeld 1884: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=1192, Revision Date: 8/27/2019, Access Date: 7/19/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [7/19/2024].

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