Giant jellyfish up to two metres are washing up on Lancashire’s beaches – here’s why

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One woman mistook the sea critter for an octopus whilst another speculated if it was an alien left behind during the recent filming of Star Wars: Andor

Giant barrel jellyfish one and a half meters long discovered on Cleveleys beach

Giant barrel jellyfish one and a half meters long discovered on Cleveleys beach (Image: Mateo Sandford)

There have been several reports of giant jellyfish washing up on the shore in and around Cleveleys this past week coinciding with the weather turning significantly warmer.

A resident from Thorton-Cleveleys was shocked when he came across one of the deceased sea critters that was around one and a half meters long.

Mateo Sandford posted a picture of his find at Cleveleys beach on social media which quickly went viral.

The jellyfish pictured was that so large that one woman mistook it for an octopus whilst another speculated if it was an alien left behind during the recent filming of Star Wars: Andor in the area.

The creature is actually a barrel jellyfish and is relatively harmless to humans but can grow up to two meters long.

They have eight frilly tendrils which contain small stinging tentacles surrounded by hundreds of little mouths.

A sting from one might be mildly irritating but not severe.

Chair of Lancashire Marine Conservation Society, Dr Barry Kaye said: “They are not very dangerous, I am told that you can get a rash/burning sensation if you touch them, but the tentacles are not as extended or hard to see as those of the Lion’s Mane, so it is easy to avoid getting hurt.

“They are actually pretty common in the Irish sea, and typically a meter in diameter, though they can grow much larger. Occasionally, usually in the summer months, you will find one or two beached around the Bay area, as photographed here.”

The large creatures swarm in warmer coastal waters in late spring and often wash up on our beaches in May or June, often in their hundreds, which explains their current large presence on the Fylde coast.

Their favourite meal is plankton, which can be found in shallow waters, and as they under estimate their own size they often end up washed ashore.

They are identifiable by their translucent flesh and huge mushroom shaped bell along with their frilly tendrils below.

Barrel jellyfish on Cleveleys beach that was mistaken for an octopus

Barrel jellyfish on Cleveleys beach that was mistaken for an octopus (Image: Mateo Sandford)

They also have a violet fringe around the bell which contains sense organs.

If found, it is best not to handle one, even whilst dead, as they can still sting.

It is a good idea to report your sighting of a barrel jellyfish to your local Wildlife Trust providing a date, location, number and ideally a picture.

The Wildlife Trusts work with sea users, scientists, politicians and local people towards a vision of ‘Living Seas’, where marine wildlife thrives.

To find out more, please visit the Wildlife Trust website here.