Lion's Mane Jellyfish - Basics to Know
Written by: Camryn McCrystal
Lion’s Mane Jellyfish are commonly found in New England waters, but the concentration of jellies along the coast this year is truly unique. Massachusetts beaches, including Duxbury, are experiencing jellyfish visitors like never before. According to Oceana, an organization that promotes ocean conservation, elements that alter the environment (such as climate change, pollution, and overfishing) promote the presence of Lion’s Mane Jellyfish. Surprisingly, these jellies thrive in areas affected by human activities, as the anthropogenic disruption drives out predators and competition.
The jellies are characterized by their red and yellow tentacles, resembling the appearance of a lion’s mane. They feed on small fish and crustaceans by using their long tentacles to capture prey. The Lion’s Mane Jellyfish are also bioluminescent, generating light that allows them to glow underwater.
Lion’s Mane Jellyfish are the largest jellies in the sea, sporting tentacles that can reach over 100 feet, and a bell up to 8 feet in diameter. Those found along our coast typically have heads ranging from 4-18 inches. However, jellies this year are unparalleled in size. Twitter users have taken to social media to share their findings; some New England jellies are reaching 5 feet in diameter! Jellies of various sizes have been spotted on both the ocean and bayside of Duxbury Beach. In addition, neighboring towns such as Hingham and Plymouth have also reported high concentrations of Lion’s Mane Jellyfish this summer.
So what should you do if you see a Lion’s Mane Jellyfish? Stay away! Their long tentacles contain small barbs filled with venom that deliver an unpleasant sting. You should even be cautious of jellies found out of the water, as washed up jellies maintain the ability to sting. Although the Lion’s Mane’s sting can be painful, it typically doesn’t pose a severe threat to your overall health. In fact, vinegar is a common treatment to help alleviate pain. According to the Patriot Ledger, Duxbury Assistant Recreation Director Steve Studley stated that Duxbury Beach lifeguards are prepared with spray bottles of vinegar to help treat stings. However, it's important to note that some people experience a subsequent allergic reaction to being stung, which may require greater medical attention.