Country Corner

The world's largest jellyfish, lion's mane, is regularly seen around our shores.
The world's largest jellyfish, lion's mane, is regularly seen around our shores.

How fascinating that the world’s largest jellyfish is regularly seen around our shores.

If that half metre wide bell is not scary enough to warn off humans, the long semi-transparent trailing filaments with their thousands of stinging cells ought to do the trick.

Even if one of these long tentacles gets pulled off, it can still sting.

No doubt a few trawler men can testify to that, as detached filaments in fishing gear are a regular cause of painful stings.

Large specimens have tentacles of a hundred feet or more, which is longer than a blue whale, making the lion’s mane jellyfish a contender for the title of word’s longest animal.

It would be natural to assume such a large jellyfish is very old.

In truth the lion’s mane jellyfish only lives for a year.

However, within that year they can travel great distances on ocean currents.

It might also be natural to assume this large bright animal is a tropical species, which only drifts our way now and then.

In fact, it is a cold water, northern species, very much at home in our chilly seas.

I recall being fascinated by the first lion’s mane I ever saw as a boy.

It was below the bridge between the two harbours at Dunbar, and seemed a terrifying creature to a lad who had shortly before been playing in the sea at the nearby beach!

This one was in the Forth at Queensferry in late July.

What sedate creatures they appear as they pulse gently and go with the flow.