This image of a jellyfish was created by a digital artist

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An image has been shared thousands of times on social media alongside a claim it shows a "Spanish Dancer Jellyfish". The claim is false; the image was created digitally and uploaded to a website in 2012. Spanish Dancers are not a type of jellyfish, but a large sea slug. 

The image was shared by a New Zealand-based user here on Facebook.

Text superimposed above the image reads, "Spanish Dancer Jellyfish".

A screenshot of the Facebook post. Taken August 17, 2021.

The image was shared thousands of times on Facebook alongside a similar claim here, here, here and here.

The claim, however, is false. 

Reverse image searches found the image was created digitally by artist Francis Le Guen.

Titled "Spanish Dancer", it was uploaded to his website here in August 2012. 

Le Guen told AFP he created the image using open source software.

The image was created using a digital fractal creation program called Apophysis, according to his website.

"Do not look for the name of these species: they came straight out of the Apophysis software, ideal for creating diaphanous "mollassoneries”, "potential" living organisms based on fractals," the website explains.

Below is a comparison of the image in the Facebook post (left) and the original uploaded by Le Guen (right): 

Image featured in the Facebook post (L) and the original uploaded by Le Guen (R).

Sea slug

Moreover, the Spanish Dancer is not a jellyfish, but a type of large sea slug that can grow up to 60cm in size. 

It is found in the tropical waters of the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans, according to Atlas of Living Australia (ALA). 

"If the animal is disturbed, it unfolds its edges and can swim through contractions and undulations of the body to move away from the disturbing element. Its common name, Spanish dancer, comes from this particular defense," the website reads. 

Below is a comparison of Le Guen’s image (left) and a screenshot of a photo from AFP’s archives showing a species of Spanish Dancer found in New Caledonia (right).

A comparison of Le Guen’s artistic rendering (L) and a screenshot of a photo from AFP’s archives showing a species of Spanish Dancer found in New Caledonia (R).