Hundreds of jellyfish spotted in Shawnee Park again

The jellyfish were first discovered in the park’s lily pond in August.
Published: Jun. 10, 2023 at 11:35 AM EDT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - While parks are typically known for wildlife, visitors will be surprised to learn that jellyfish now call Shawnee Park home.

The jellyfish were first discovered in the park’s lily pond in August. It was unknown if they would reappear after winter.

Officials said there are hundreds of tiny jellyfish currently living in the pond at the park, called “peach blossom jellyfish.” The jellyfish are described as the size of a contact lens and can be seen pulsing up and down inside the pond water.

Jesse Hendrix with Louisville Olmsted Parks Conservancy said the jellyfish are native to China but have made their way to the U.S. and Kentucky.

“Originally, these freshwater jellyfish were imported on plants that people would put in their aquatic gardens,” Hendrix said. “That’s been years and years ago. The way we think they got into the pond at Shawnee Park is by waterfowl; hitching a ride on ducks. These jellyfish have been documented in the Ohio River, so it’s very possible that they went from there to here.”

The jellyfish can sting, but due to their size, their stinging cells would not be able to penetrate a person’s skin.

“I’ve seen people pick them up in their hands and have no ill effects,” Hendrix said.

Hendrix said scientists are still studying their effects on the ecosystem, so it’s not clear if they can be labeled as invasive.

“It’s always a concern, especially when something so small can have such a big impact on the food chain,” she said.

Hendrix hopes people use this unique opportunity to explore Shawnee Park.