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Peach Blossom Jellyfish found in Sichuan
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A shoal of Peach Blossom Jellyfish in rarely seen numbers was found for the first time in Dazhou City, Sichuan, on July 29, 2008. The Peach Blossom Jellyfish evolved about 650 million years ago, is ranked as the most endangered species in the world, and is one of China's aquatic treasures.

Peach Blossom Jellfish

According to a Chengdu Business Daily report on July 31, the jellyfish, the size of a 50 cent Chinese coin, were floating like peach blossoms in water. With neither head nor tail, transparent and pure, they looked like a cluster of parachutes floating in the sky.

Chen Wen, a member of staff in the Animal Epidemic Prevention and Quarantine Station of Dazhou Bureau of Aquatic Products, said that the jellyfish were found on July 29 in Daxian County in a volume of oxygen-rich water of around 60-70 square meters. After comparison with a website example, the workers were surprised to find that all the features of these newly discovered specimens matched those of the Peach Blossom Jellyfish.

Associate Chief Engineer of Dazhou Bureau of Aquatic Products Deng Xiaojun told Chengdu Business Daily, "Having referred to various documentations and subjected the specimens to verification by experts and academics, we have concluded that this rare creature found in Daxian County is indeed a species of Peach Blossom Jellyfish."

It is rare to find such numbers of Peach Blossom Jellyfish in such a small area of water. The experts do not think these jellyfish were bred in captivity, as their environmental needs are very demanding. The slightest pollution would be fatal to them, and it is rare to breed even one living specimen. This leads to the hope that the appearance of the Peach Blossom Jellyfish is an important sign of improvement in water quality.

The rare jellyfish lives in freshwater in temperate zones. It's the oldest and simplest invertebrate coelenterate animal ever found on earth, and is ranked as the most endangered creature in the world. It first appeared 650 million years ago therefore is also known as the "living fossil of hydro-biology".

The Peach Blossom Jellyfish is of significant academic value. Should it die out it will be a loss not only to species diversification in China but also a cultural loss – in ancient times authors wrote of the Peach Blossom Jellyfish. Domestic academic circles are vocal advocates for protection of this creature.

Of the world's 11 species of Peach Blossom Jellyfish, 9 are to be found in China

To date, eleven varieties of Peach Blossom Jellyfish have been found throughout world, nine in China and the other two respectively in Britain and Japan.

(China.org.cn by Hou Xiaoying, July 31, 2008)

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