A new species of jellyfish named after the director of the FIO, professor at the USF
His expertise in jellyfish is so renowned that Monty Graham, director of the Florida Institute of Oceanography and professor of integrative biology at USF, has a new species of jellyfish named after him.
The Aurelia montyi is one of 28 Aurelie species, also known as “moon jellies” because their pale bell resembles a full moon. Native to the Gulf of Mexico, the Aurelia montyi can grow to the size of a plate. He doesn’t do a lot of injections, like all Aurelie species, but may cause minor skin irritation in some individuals when physically encountered.
“What a very cool honor it is. I doubt many outside of science will fully appreciate it, but having a species named for me is the kindest and most meaningful gesture from other scientists,” Graham said. “This one is very special because it is a species that I have spent many years trying to get to know, but I never thought we would have the same name!”
A research team, which includes Graham’s former student Luciano Chiaverano of the University of Southern Mississippi, gave the jellyfish its official name in the journal “Aquatic Biology.” They found the new species off Dauphin Island, Alabama. The study highlights the importance of taxonomy – the study of the definition and classification of groups of biological organisms – and calls Graham a “pioneer in ecological studies with Aurelie. ”
“Recognizing the diversity of lunar jellyfish with official names is vital for conservation efforts and other studies,” the study says. “This work clarifies the practical implications of molecular genetic data as diagnostic traits and sheds light on the patterns and processes that generate crypsia.”
Throughout his 25-year career, Graham has authored or co-authored over 85 peer-reviewed scientific papers, primarily in biological oceanography, with an emphasis on jellyfish behavior. He joined the FIO in January 2021.
The institute, which is housed at USF, serves as the state of Florida’s hub for oceanographic research and coastal stewardship and as an education and research resource for schools in the state university system.