Killer jellyfish on their way to Dorset coast

First published in Jurassic Coast News by

RARE sea creatures with a nasty sting could be moving towards the Dorset coast.

The orange-pink pearl chain or string jellyfish can form strings up to 100ft long and has already been spotted in the south west for the first time off Cornwall and Plymouth.

Its sting is powerful enough to kill large fish such as salmon and experts have advised anyone who spots one not to touch it.

They are normally found in deeper water off Norway and Ireland and it is believed that their arrival in south west waters is because they have been attracted by a plankton bloom.

The creature's sting contains a powerful toxin which divers say is like being stung by a wasp.

Weymouth Sea Life Park marine biologist Ruth Dawson looks after all the jellyfish on the park.

She said: "These jellyfish usually live in the East Atlantic from Norway to South Africa, so it is very unusual to have found one where they did.

"They normally stay in waters from 100-800 metres deep and live in long chains of up to 30 metres.

"These chains can sometimes break up and drift into open sea. The smaller chains could then get carried by the current and I expect this is what happened here.

"I would advise divers and swimmers to beware as this jellyfish is poisonous and has a sting which can penetrate the skin in the palm of a human hand.

"I have heard it feels much like a bee or wasp sting.

"They are a close relative to the Portuguese Man-of-War jellyfish, which are well known for being very poisonous to humans and also having massive tentacles of up to 50 metres long.

"We have never had any String of Pearls jellyfish at the Weymouth Sea Life Park.

"They would certainly be a challenge to keep as they can get to such a massive size and are used to living in deep waters with great pressure.

"We are very interested in unusual species spotted locally. We log any sightings we deem strange or interesting and share that information with other Sea Life centres and aquariums."

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