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The recent heatwave has seen a dramatic increase in jellyfish around Britain’s costs, researchers say.
The much colder weather in the spring saw a decline in jellies, but The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) say that several species are now rapidly increasing in numbers thanks to the warm weather.
Despite their fascinating beauty, magical colours, mushroom-like body and beautiful flowing tentacles, jellyfish can of course have powerful stings and scientists are warning that touching them can be dangerous.
The MCS have been keeping a close eye on the jellyfish population over recent years by recording reports from members of the public.
“Normally we’d be receiving records from January onwards, this year we didn’t have anything until May.
“We are getting anecdotal reports of people saying well ‘I’ve been to this beach in the southwest for many years and I’ve never seen so many jellyfish’ – we do tend to get that each year,” said Dr Richardson.
Blue and Compass jellyfish are very common in the South West of England, while sightings of Lion’s Mane jellyfish in the North Wales and the North West of England have also increased.
Lion’s Mane jellyfish can grow to approximately two metres wide and feed on Moon jellyfish.
Dr Richardson said: “They’re our biggest jellyfish, they have metres of trailing tentacles, and they have very powerful stings.
“They actually feed on the Moon jellyfish, so you tend to get big blooms of Moon and then Lion’s Mane after.
“We ask people to report what they see online and send us photos.”
However, while MCS research suggests the warm weather is to thank for the jellyfish rise, many people believe that pollution is driving up the number of algal blooms and depriving the seas of oxygen.
Dr Richardson explained that over fishing can also change the jellyfish population, particularly when other predators are taken away, allowing them to thrive and feast on other fish.
He added: “They are great opportunists, they have a unique design, if you take away their competition, they will take advantage of that situation.”