It goes without saying that jellyfish are some of the strangest and most mysterious creatures in the sea. They drift through the water like liquid themselves, and though most of them mean neither harm nor malice, contact with them can be dangerous – even potentially fatal.
Of this, the Lion’s Mane jellyfish (cyanea capillata) is no exception. Without exaggeration, it is one of the largest jellyfish in the world. It’s tentacles average around nine feet in length, and the diameter of its body can reach up to six feet across. It is also one of the few predatory jellyfish in the world, eating a variety of zooplankton, and even smaller jellyfish. If you want, you can usually find them in the northern parts of the Pacific Ocean, parts of the Irish sea, and gathering around costal sections of Australia. You can see video of this silent entity swimming around near Alaska here at YouTube.
The Lion’s Mane has recently made the news, with the Daily Mail reporting that swarms have been discovered off the coast of Cornwall, Great Britian’s southwestern-most reach. A warning has been issued to swimmers looking to dive in the waters surrounding Cornwall because, like most other jellyfish, its sting is highly toxic.
Reports state that a sting from the Lion’s Mane can be extremely painful, and in higher doses, will lead to paralysis, muscle seizure, suffocation, and cardiac arrest. There is only one reported death caused by a Lion’s Mane, however. The toxins in each tentacle are low, but because the jellyfish is so massive, becoming entangled can be a horrifying experience, especially when you consider that the largest Lion’s Mane ever found was 7 and a half feet across, and had tentacles 120 feet long.
Scientists believe that global cooling and heating patterns have lowered the temperatures in the waters farther south, which is what is drawing the Lion’s Mane down to Cornwall, and possibly beyond.