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The Lion’s Mane Jellyfish

The Lion’s Mane Jellyfish

January 2013: The lion’s mane jellyfish is the largest known species of jellyfish – its tentacles can reach 15 m. and its diameter is almost two metres! The diameter is measured by checking the length of its bell – the top of its body that’s shaped like one.

The lion’s mane jellyfish Cyanea capillata is a cold water species, unable to survive in warmer climates. Although they are well-known as the largest species of jellyfish, the size of these individuals can vary greatly, with larger specimens attaining a vivid crimson to dark purple colouration, while smaller members of the family are lighter orange or tan in colour.

The bell looks a little like an eight-pointed star because it is made up of eight lobes. Colourful arms emerge from the centre of the bell, these are shorter than the silvery, thin tentacles of which there are so many – it has eight groups, with 70-150 tentacles in each group.

It lives in the icy waters of the Arctic, northern Atlantic, and northern Pacific Oceans. Despite its massive size, the jellyfish is hunted by seabirds, fish like the ocean sunfish and leatherback sea turtles, which sometimes only feed on this jellyfish and nothing else! The lion’s mane jellyfish usually hovers near the water surface, no deeper than 20 m. and relies on the current to push it forward.

Can you guess how the animal got its name? By its tentacles of course! They resemble a lion’s mane! They vary in colour as they grow during their short lifespan of about a year – from pink and yellow to a reddish-brown.

Author: Sanctuary Asia, First appeared in: Sanctuary Cub, January 2013.


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