Lion’s Mane Sea Jelly
The lions mane jelly gets its name from the colorful tentacles that resemble a lion’s mane. It can grow to an enormous size despite starting its life as an insignificant larva that feeds on plankton in cold ocean water.
The largest individuals may grow to 3 meters (9 feet) wide at the bell and its tentacles may stretch more than 30 meters ( almost 100 feet)
They are the largest of the sea jellys (also known as jellyfish) but there are some other species that are more dangerous to people.
The bigger a lions mane jelly grows, the more colorful it becomes! The bells range from yellow to orange to red, older tentacles may be reddish, but for the most part they are clear as translucent jelly.
The larva that survive the harsh winter months feed voraciously in the spring as warmer weather encourages plankton growth, as the jelly grows it can add smaller jellies and small fish to its diet.
The summer is time for serious growth, and divers will find the largest lions mane sea jellies in the autumn. The adults die in the winter possibly because of rough seas and a reduced food supply.
Lions mane jellies do not descend below 60 feet, but a clever feeding method is to start near the surface and sink slowly down allowing the tentacles to spread out in a wide net. the net is hard to see so everything in range is easily engulfed. The tentacles are equipped with small stinging cells otherwise know as nematocysts. The venom is enough to stun the victims and then smaller tentacles guide the food into the jellies mouth.
A Lions mane jelly is washed ashore is a common sight during low tide, but steer clear of those sticky tentacles, their stinging cells, the nematocysts, can still fire when beached on land. Always wash your hands well after coming into contact with a lions mane jelly, as the venom will sting if you accidentally rub your eyes or tough your lips.