Invasion of jellyfish

Jelly Fish SUS-150722-134129001
Jelly Fish SUS-150722-134129001

Concerns have been raised over jellyfish after a large blue monster washed up on the beach at Bexhill.

The gelatinous mass, thought to be a barrel jellyfish, was washed up at South Cliff earlier this month and photographed by Patrick Marsh.

It can grow up to a metre in width and has a mild sting.

According to the marine Conservation Society there are eight species of jellyfish which can be found in our water, seven of which can sting.

The most dangerous is the Portuguese man-of-war, which is luckily rare.

There have already been a number of incidents this summer where large numbers of barrel jellyfish have washed up on beaches around the British coast.

The barrel jellyfish - Rhizostoma pulmo - is found in the northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean and is the biggest species to be found in the UK.

Whilst it can sting, it is not dangerous to humans and only eats plankton.

Experts say their stings are not powerful enough to do any serious harm, but warn swimmers that it is best not to touch them.

Conservationist Steve Trewhella recently spotted a swarm of hundreds of the dustbin lid sized creatures off the coast of Dorset.

He said: “We last got such a glut of them in the 1980s but it was nothing like what I saw this year. They were just everywhere. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The Marine Conservation Society say it is rare for them to swim closer to the coast or inland, which is why recent sightings have made headlines.

When the seas warm up in summer and autumn they breed at a phenomenal rate, creating huge swarms.

Beneath the dustbin lid-shaped bell are hundreds of tiny mouths each surrounded by tiny stinging tentacles to catch plankton.

The sting is no more harmful than that of a stinging nettle.

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