The Gulf of Maine has seen a recent increase in sightings of what is believed to be the “world’s largest” jellyfish.
The lion’s mane jellyfish can grow up to 5 feet in length, and can have tentacles up to 100 feet long, the Portland Press Herald reports. The massive jellyfish has been known to sting beach goers in the past, according to the outlet.
Mariaville, Maine, residents Becky and Jimmy Rice-Barnes were reportedly digging for clams on Lamoine Beach when they came across a creature 5 feet in diameter washed up on the beach, the Portland Press Herald reports.
The lion’s mane jellyfish, which can grow over five feet across, is believed to be the world’s largest jellyfish species. It’s increasingly washing up on Maine’s beaches. https://t.co/2f4ErwOalx
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) September 15, 2019
“My husband said you’re not going to believe what’s over here, and I didn’t,” Rice-Barnes said. “We’ve seen red jellyfish before, we’ve just never seen a red jellyfish that’s huge,” she continued.
Senior research scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay, Nick Record, tracks jellyfish sightings in the gulf each summer. Hundreds of lions manes jellyfish sightings were reported this year, making up nearly all total jellyfish sightings in the region, according to the Portland Press Herald. The typical number of jellyfish sightings per year ranges from 300 to 700, Record said, according to the Portland Press Herald.
The lion’s mane jellyfish typically lives in cold water environments, using its long tentacles to hunt its prey. There have been five reports in Maine this year of lion’s mane jellyfish stings, according to the Portland Press Herald. (RELATED: How To Pull Off Something Called An ‘Invisible Jellyfish’)
“Just a gigantic, scary jellyfish that you would not want to run into in the water. It has been kind of a steady stream of them all summer,” Record explained.
While reports of lion’s mane jellyfish are up from recent years, it is difficult for researchers to discern whether there is actually an increase in the creature’s presence in the area since past record keeping is an unreliable metric to compare, chief scientific officer with Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Andy Pershing, explained.
If there is in fact an increased presence of lion’s mane in the Gulf of Maine, then it is likely because of quickly warming ocean waters, Record claims.
“Every once in a while I get pictures of people holding a lion’s mane jellyfish, don’t do that,” Record explained.
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