Divers Spot Second Human-Sized Jellyfish Off the English Coast

Divers Spot Second Human-Sized Jellyfish Off the English Coast
Barrel jellyfish. (Cloudtail the Snow Leopard/Flickr)

The second sighting of a giant barrel jellyfish within days off the coast of Cornwall, southwest England could be the prelude of an invasion, biologists say.

Will Hancock, 35, and Dave Swiggs, 33, of Fowley Shellfish Company, spotted a giant barrel jellyfish floating by in St Austell Bay, but it is not clear on exactly which day it occurred.

Hancock had lowered himself into the water to do an inspection on the mussel lines, he told SWNS, Cornwall Live reported.

“I get in the water sometimes to look at our site and out the corner of my eye, I saw something that was bigger than me.

“It was at least 8ft long and probably 4ft wide. It was the biggest one I’ve ever seen.

“It’s probably because of what they feed on, that’s why they’re getting so big. They’ve got so much to feed on that growing quite large.

“They’re becoming more abundant, people are catching them in their trawlers. We’ll see a lot more of them, absolutely.”

Zoologists say the mild summer weather attracts more jellyfish to the warmer surface waters where they forage on zooplankton and other small fish.

“It was huge, we don’t often see them that big. They are out there, but you don’t usually see them that close to the surface,” said Swiggs.

“We’ve seen more large jellyfish this year as the weather has got hotter, maybe the sunshine has brought bigger ones into the South West,” he added.

Sealife is so abundant these days that the jellyfish can feed unhampered and grow to such amazing lengths.

Marine ecologist Victoria Hobson said: “There’s lots out there, there’s not just one or two of them.

“I’ve been working on barrel jellyfish since 2008 and we’re seeing more of them now because the water is clear and flat.

“There are lots of sunfish around at the minute and they eat them. The sunfish like the warmer weather.”

Remarkably, this was the second encounter with these giant sea-creatures in British waters within days.

Only Sunday another jellyfish was spotted, just 32 miles south, in Falmouth.

The large cnidarian was identified as a type of barrel jellyfish, CNN reported.

“What an unforgettable experience,” biologist Lizzie Daly told the network. “I know barrel jellyfish get really big in size but I have never seen anything like it before!”

“It was the best thing I’ve ever done,” she said of the encounter. Daly was exploring the waters for her campaign, “Wild Ocean Week,” and added that the jellyfish was as large as she was.“We had been diving for about half an hour, and out of the murky water was this single enormous jellyfish,” she told USA Today. “It was very humbling to be swimming alongside of it,” she said, adding that the animal isn’t a threat to humans and has a mild sting.

Daly noted, “It was just a pretty majestic creature.”

Barrel jellyfish grow to about 3 feet and weigh as much as 75 pounds, according to the Dorset Wildlife Trust.

The wildlife website says, “The sting of the barrel jellyfish is not normally harmful to humans, though if you find one on the beach it’s best not to handle it as they can still sting when dead.”

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.