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The Jellyfish have arrived

Often, about May time, huge Barrel Jellyfish are washed up on the beach at New Quay. This year (2017) they have come in greater numbers than ever with as many as 300 being deposited on the sand with the receding tide. The Barrel Jellyfish Rhizostoma octopus is the largest species of jellyfish seen in British waters. Found throughout the north Atlantic from Africa to Britain, these harmless ocean drifters cannot avoid their fate. Their gently pulsing bell (body) can only maintain their position in the water relative to the surface, and they have no sensory organs to tell them that the wind is sending them onto a beach where they will ultimately die.

Jellyfish are entirely at the mercy of ocean currents and the wind, and it is the Gulf Stream and onshore winds that bring them to New Quay.

The Barrel Jellyfish is the favourite food of the Leatherback Turtle which sometimes ventures into British waters in the Gulf Stream.

Jellyfish can resemble floating plastic bags, which is why Leatherback Turtles often mistake them and die as a result of ingesting them.

Barrell Jellyfish

 

A Barrel Jellyfish

All jellyfish feed by capturing and killing their prey with special stinging cells on their dangling tentacles called nematocysts. While some of these stinging cells can deliver a fatal dose of poison to humans, thankfully, the common jellyfish of British waters can only deliver a mild sting.

 

 

 

There have been very occasional sightings of the much more dangerous Portuguese Man 'o war on Wales beaches. This jellyfish is made up of a colony of individual polyps serving different functions for the organism.

The Portuguese Man 'o war has a gas filled float and travels on the surface of the water by both wind and current.

It's tentacles can extend for several metres underneath the floating individual.

Members of the public are advised not to touch jellyfish washed up on the beach.