Lion's Mane Jellyfish

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Lion's Mane Jellyfish (Cyanea capillata)  



The lion's mane jellyfish is the largest of jellyfish in the world. One specimen has been found that measured 7ft 6in. in length 120ft, including tentacles. For comparison, the largest recorded blue whale is 108 feet long.  Specimens found in the Puget Sound area are generally closer to a 1-2 feet in bell diameter. The Lion's Mane Jellyfish is also known as the giant jellyfish or the hair jelly, and is formally named for its showy trailing tentacles reminiscent of a lion's mane.

This jellyfish is found in the cold waters of the arctic down to the northern waters of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans, and is common in the English Channel, Irish Sea, and in western Scandinavian waters. In warmer waters on the lower latitudes the species is found at a smaller size.

 Jellyfish are pelagic, meaning they use the currents to drift, however Lion's mane jellyfish usually find their way into a inlet or bay where there is an abundance of food towards the end of there life. They tend to stay near the surface of the water, rarely seen below a depth of 20 meters, or 65 feet.  As they grow in size they tend to be pushed in-shore and can be seen in late summer and autumn. 

During an average year of life this jellyfish can reproduce in two ways. In its early life at the polyps stage (4), it can reproduce asexually. Once it develops through the ephyrae stage (6) and reaches the medusa stage (1) it can sexually reproduce. Some species disperse larva; the Lions Mane, however, carries fertilized eggs with its tentacles to a hard surface. 


This jellyfish is cannibalistic and eats other jellyfish likes moon jellies, as well as small fish, zooplankton and ctenophores. It is also consumed by creatures of the deep as well. Lion's Mane Jellyfish have been recorded prey for famished sea anemones, Leatherback Turtles, as well as birds and other large jellyfish!

This species is also capable of causing substantial harm in the form of rashes, painful stings, and potentially fatal circumstances due to its potent and plentiful stinging cells called nematocysts located on its tentacles and oral arms.

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While these jellyfish do not have a "brain", they have a central nervous system, a ring of nerves nestled in their hood, or bells. The adaptations that jellyfish have to ensnare their prey is fascinating; these bells of these jellyfish are divided into eight lobes, and each lobe has a cluster of 60 to 120 tentacles each! They also have the oral arms to help transport food to their mouth.

They have been seen at Blakely Harbor.

National Science Foundation Jellyfish - Lion's Mane