Sunday 25 September 2016

Researchers find increase in sightings of lion's mane jellyfish

Published 29/07/2016 | 14:06

Moon jellyfish are among the species that can be spotted in Scottish waters
Moon jellyfish are among the species that can be spotted in Scottish waters

Sightings of jellyfish including species with a powerful sting are on the rise around Scottish coastlines, according to researchers.

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The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) says there has been increased reported sightings around Scottish beaches of the lion's mane jellyfish, which has the most powerful and painful sting of the UK species.

Sightings include Aberdeenshire, Hebrides, Orkney and Angus so far in 2016.

The lion's mane jellyfish blooms - when jellies mass together - during the summer but it is rarely seen south of the Irish Sea or Northumberland, with most reported sightings coming from Scottish waters.

The charity advises beachgoers not to touch the jellyfish and report any sightings to the national jellyfish survey, which is now in its 14th year.

MCS says the number of jellyfish blooms in UK coastal waters is on the rise as the seas warm up.

Dr Peter Richardson, head of biodiversity and fisheries at MCS, said "There's evidence that jellyfish numbers are increasing in some parts of the world, including UK seas.

"Some scientists argue that jellyfish numbers increase and then decrease normally every 20 years or so, however others believe these increases are linked to factors such as pollution, over-fishing and possibly climate change.

"The MCS jellyfish survey helps provide some of the information we need to understand more about these ancient creatures."

Other jellyfish to look out for in the UK include the barrel, blue and moon species.

Dr Richardson added: "We still know relatively little about jellyfish and what drives changes in their numbers, so reporting even a single one can help.

"One thing we do know is that leatherback turtles travel to UK waters to feed on jellyfish and are usually recorded along the west coast of the UK between May and October - this year we've already heard of sightings from the south-west of England and the Irish Sea."

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