Alien Invasion on the shores? Nope.. just the season for Lion’s Mane Jellies

Cyanea capillata

Seen one of these on the shore?  Don’t panic its ok!  I received the following email yesterday from a Qualicum resident and had a minute to respond and thought it might be useful to share.    btw while not dangerous they can sting – so don’t pretend they are stranded whales and try and get them back into the water!

Original Email:  “I just wondered if you knew that a large number of orangy-brown jellyfish washed up on Qualicum Beach over the last few days.   Yesterday, August 22nd, walking along the beach in the Judges Row area I counted 336 in a 1/3 mile area.   I’d love to know why this happens sometimes and if it has anything to do with the high tides at the moment.    Regards,  Pauline”

Response:  Hi Pauline,

Thanks for the inquiry and your curiosity.  What you are seeing is a relatively common and seasonal occurrence in the Strait of Georgia of groundings/stranding of the Lions Mane Jellyfish Cyanea capitella.   To see that many in a short distance is quite a bit and the wind and tide must have been working against their favour.  They only have a one year lifespan and so this is very common in late summer.  You can read all about them here on Wikipedia

Lion's Mane Jelly

Credit Creative Commons – Flickr User Travis S

I have seen them underwater with their stinging tentacles extending as much as 10 metres in all directions where they are simply stunning.  I was surprised myself to see in the Wikipedia article that the bell or large body of the jellyfish can get as much as 8’ in diameter and the tentacles 30-40 metres.   I have seen them over 3’ in diameter locally   This is another good link from Discovery Channel

We have a sculpture about this species at the field station you can read about here:   and we eventually hope to have a jellyfish tank at the Field Station (although we’ll showcase much smaller species like the local moon jelly.

Cheers and keep exploring the beach.


One Response to “Alien Invasion on the shores? Nope.. just the season for Lion’s Mane Jellies”

  1. Louise Dwyer Says:

    I lived in Qualicum Beach for 34 years, until 2004. I don’t remember seeing red jellyfish on the beach or in the water until the past few years. I spent a lot of time at the beach and swam almost daily in the summer. Now I am reluctant to swim, the water is full of them.

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