Encountering the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish
We were recently lucky enough to spend a wonderful week in a beautiful quiet spot on the Isle of Skye. From our window we were incredibly fortunate to see Minke whale, sea eagles, otters, common seal and grey seal – bliss! One of our favourite encounters was with the beautiful lion’s mane jellyfish.
Most people, in Britain at least, are in awe at the beauty of the mighty lion. Beautiful indeed, but a voracious predator with an undisputed record of man-eating.
Bizarrely, to us at least, the equally beautiful lion’s mane jellyfish, sometimes called sea blubber, gets a fairly bad press. It’s sting packs a punch that deserves our respect. But, as Billy Connolly once said
Sealife doesn’t want us in there, it doesn’t like us, it’s trying to make us go away.
Perhaps if they could speak or form words, lion’s mane jellyfish would call us sea blubber too.
The lion is not the biggest carnivore (polar and Kodiak bears are) and not even the biggest cat (tigers are). The lion’s mane jellyfish is an integral part of the British* and Atlantic marine ecosystem. It is the World’s largest jellyfish at up to 2 metres or more across. It’s distribution is circumpolar suggesting that the ever shrinking arctic might be important and, whilst it’s sting is nasty, and it starred as the ‘murderer’ in a Sherlock Holmes story (rather than the victim’s unhealthy diet and lifestyle), it won’t eat you! It acts as a protective shelter to many marine organisms and is an important food source for marine life we love, such as sea turtles and ocean sunfish.
I have been swimming and snorkelling all my life and following jellyfish for much of it but have never been stung in the water. Stings are avoidable.
*We should note that lions and bears are also British but were almost certainly wiped out by hunting and eco-cide by our ancestors.