Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Species of the Day: Lion's Mane Jellyfish (Cyanea capillata)

The Lion's Mane jellyfish is a sea creature found predominantly in the icy north pacific, arctic and north atlantic oceans. Cyanea capillata is the world's largest jellyfish. The largest on record was found in Massachusetts Bay in 1870. That individual was larger than 7ft (2.1M) across the bell with tentacles greater than 120ft (36.5M) in length! Because of this length, Cyanea capillata is amongst the longest of all living organisms, being in competition with the Bootlace worm and the Blue Whale.

These animals are important ecologically as they act islands in the open ocean. As the Cyanea capillata floats in frosty, calm bays, many other sea creatures cluster around them, as the jellyfish provides food and shelter.

The Lion's Mane jellyfish is fed on by many large fish, seabirds and some turtles. The Leatherback Sea turtle lives almost exclusively off Cyanea capillata, travelling far and wide to reach the coasts of Eastern Canada to feed in Summer months.

Despite their massive size, the Lion's Mane jellyfish is not dangerous to humans as their sting merely causes discomfort.

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