MORE giant jellyfish have been washing up on the coast around Weymouth and west Dorset.
There have been a number of reported sightings of the marine creatures in recent days and several readers have sent in pictures.
Ben Field spotted one swimming in Lyme Bay while diving the wreck of the M2.
Jim Perkins took photos of the barrel jellyfish washed up at Ferrybridge in Weymouth on Sunday afternoon.
He said they were around 18 to 24 inches across by his reckoning.
People are advised not to touch the barrel jellyfish, and Mr Perkins said he was concerned about dogs in the area potentially coming into contact with them.
He said: "What was worrying me really was there were a lot of dog walkers there.
"A lot of people were unaware of them."
Ellie Doyle spotted one about 24 inches across close at Smallmouth Cove.
She had been walking her dog Mollie, but put her on the lead when she saw the giant creature.
She urged people to be aware of the jellyfish so that no children or dogs got stung.
She said: “It’s the first one I’ve seen this year. I don’t know what makes them come out this early.”
She added: “I think it’s something people need to be aware of.”
Barrel jellyfish can grow up to 90cm (35in) wide and weigh as much as 25kg (55lb). Their tentacles can reach lengths of 6ft (1.9m)
Experts from Dorset Wildlife Trust have advised the public not to touch the creatures even if they are washed up as they can still give a mild sting.
Emma Rance from the Trust said that the ‘spring plankton bloom’, caused by the upwelling of nutrients in the sea, meant there was lots of food for the jellyfish.
She said that the jellyfish were the main food source for leatherback turtles and the oceanic sunfish and so it was possible Dorset residents would see them in the summer as they came into coastal waters to feed.
She added that jellyfish had been thought to be ‘passive drifters’ being carried about on the ocean currents but that new research had found that they actively swim against the current.
Emma Rance said: “Most species pulsate and that gives them movement to help them along and help them to digest food along the tentacles.”
Dorset Wildlife Trust wants to monitor where jellyfish are being seen. It asks people to Tweet pictures to @Dorsetwildlife
t: 01305 830981