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:  https://viudeepbay.com/2011/10/24/our-emily-turns-shoreline-debris-into-jellyfish-art/   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.  https://viudeepbay.com/2011/01/25/future-spatial-use-graphics/

Cheers and keep exploring the beach.

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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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