A BLOOM in the numbers of barrel jellyfish in the waters off Weymouth and Portland has sparked an increase in sightings.

Over the weekend more and more sightings of the sea creatures have been reported after members of the public spotted them both in the ocean and washed up on the beaches.

Steve Trewhella, a professional wildlife photographer and environmental campaigner, found two jellyfish washed up on Portland yesterday morning.

Mr Trewhella said: “We found one by the sailing academy and another on the beach of Castle Cove.

“I haven’t seen jellyfish as big as these for a long time, the last was probably in the 1980s.

“They are just like a big jelly sweet, that’s the best way to describe them.

“They are very heavy, the one I am holding weighed about 10kg.

“It’s really ironic that the jellyfish are washing up because we have stopped four or five balloon releases in the last few weeks because of environmental concerns and the fact that turtles mistake balloons for jellyfish so to have them wash up now just shows our concerns.”

Mr Trewhella did urge members of the public not to touch the jellyfish unless they were experienced in dealing with jellyfish.

Terry and Isobel Why, from Portland, were walking their pet dog Popeye along Ferrybridge on Friday morning when they spotted jellyfish.

Mrs Why said: “We were walking along the pebbles on Ferrybridge when we spotted it.

“It’s the first time I have seen one in this country.

“Our daughter lives in Bermuda so we have seen them there before, but we have never seen one that size before, we were quite surprised by the size of it.”

The Marine Conservation Society says this species of jellyfish are most likely to be spotted while out at sea and are less common closer to the coast.

They are believed to live in deep water during the winter but are coming closer to the shore due to warmer temperatures.

James Brooks and Kevin Darch, both from Weymouth, were sea fishing off the Pleasure Pier in Weymouth when they spotted the jellyfish swimming towards the shore.

Mr Brooks, 34, said: “We were fishing off the pier when we saw it swimming just below us.

“I have been sea fishing for about 12 months now and I often fish there but it’s the first one I have ever seen “It was swimming right up close to the pier and it was there for quite a while, then it swam off towards the beach.”

If you spot a barrel jellyfish and take a photo, contact the Echo by email on newsdesk@ dorsetecho.co.uk