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15 Facts About the Lions Mane Jellyfish

Mark Mancini

June 16, 2010 was a weird day for New


England beach-goers. Somewhere between 50
and 100 swimmers were stung off the coasts
of Rye, New Hampshire and, when a 40-pound
lions mane corpse was found at the scene,
the authorities felt theyd found their
perpetrator. But could a solitary jellyfish really
inflict so much mayhem?

The
stunningand stinginglions
mane
jellyfish (Cyanea capillata) ranks among
earths most beautiful creatures. Let's tip our
scuba masks to this amazing invertebrate.

1. IT CAN GROW UP TO 120 FEET LONG.


By comparison, the largest recorded blue
whale was a paltry 108 feet long. But dont go
around calling this jellyfish the worlds longest
animal. Some marine biologists claim the
saltwater bootlace worm (Lineus longissimus)
deserves that titlewhen fully extended, it
can stretch 180 feet from end to end!

Its certainly
not
common, mar
i
ne
biologist
Sean Colin told
LiveScience,
but
its
certainly
within
the
Geir Friestad, Flickr
realm
of
possibility because they do have so many
tentacles if theyre that large. Colin
hypothesizes that, since dead jellies can still
sting, maybe the body was broken up into
several large chunks which spread out and
contacted
unsuspecting
visitors.
Well
probably never know for sure.

WASTE

6. THESE GUYS CAN HAVE UP TO 1200


TENTACLES.

Jellyfish have a very special opening designed


to perform double-duty as both a mouth and
an anus. At least theyre economical.

These are arranged in eight sets that contain


between 70 and 150 individual tentacles
apiece. Now theres some Grade-A nightmare
fuel

2. IT EATS AND EXPELS


THROUGH THE SAME ORIFICE.

3. IT ISNT IMMUNE TO PREDATION.


As you can see in this clip (filmed by National
Geographic), lions mane jellyfish need to
watch
their
backs
around
famished
anemones. Also, leatherback sea turtles have
been seen gobbling them up off the coasts of
Canada.
The
reptiles' throats contain
backward-pointing spikes called oral papillae
to help move food in the direction of the
stomach; they also make escaping pretty
difficult.

4. LIONS MANE JELLYFISH COME IN A


VARIETY OF COLORS.
Large individuals are often red or purple,
while smaller specimens tend to be shades of
tannish-orange.

5. A SINGLE SPECIMEN MAY HAVE


STUNG OVER 50 PEOPLE.

7.
UNFORTUNATELY,
PICTURE WAS FAKED.

FAMOUS

YouTube

As far as being awesome is concerned, nature


doesnt need the Internets help. Perhaps
youve seen this photo, which happens to be
Google Images number one search result for
giant jellyfish. Many blogs and news sites
have claimed that this thing is an especiallylarge lions mane jellyfish. But so far as we

know, this species has a maximum diameter


of only seven and a half feetfar smaller than
the monster pictured here. What gives? As
you might have guessed, it's Photoshopped.

In all fairness, contrary to popular belief,


these animals do have central nervous
systemsa ring of nerves can be found
nestled in their hoods (or bells). So there.

8. IT MAKES DO WITH A YEAR-LONG


LIFESPAN.

12. SOME SCIENTISTS THINK


THEIR POPULATION IS BOOMING

Believe it or not, one type of jellyfish may be


functionally immortal. Sadly, the lions mane
jelly doesnt follow suit.

Though the jurys still out, many have argued


thatdue to factors like over-fishing and
rising global sea temperaturesjellyfish
numbers may be skyrocketing. Who knows? If
true, this might mean well all start munching
on more dried jellies at seafood restaurants.

9. THE LIONS MANE JELLYFISH LIKE IT


COLD.
Frequent denizens of harsh, Arctic waters,
lions
mane
jellyfish
are
seldom
seen below the northern 42nd parallel. Also,
they gravitate towards the surface and almost
never venture beneath depths of 66 feet.

13. LIONS MANE JELLIES TEND TO


GROUP UP.
A.Davey, Flickr

C.
capillata sometimes
swim together in
huge, kilometerwide clusters called
shoals.

10.
LIKE
OTHER
JELLYFISH,
IT
REPRODUCES BOTH SEXUALLY AND
ASEXUALLY.
Jellies
take
on
several
forms
in
their complicated life cycles. Upon entering
whats called the medusa stage and
becoming adults, they can reproduce by
releasing sperm and eggs. However, as
stationary entities rooted to the ocean floor
while in the polyp stage, theyre capable of
asexually cloning themselves.

11. ALSO LIKE OTHER JELLYFISH, IT


(TECHNICALLY) LACKS A BRAIN.

Derek Keats, Flickr

THAT

14. SCHOOLS OF
SURROUND THEM

FISHES

OFTEN

While deadly to smaller animals (including


other jellyfish), lions mane jellyfish stings
dont have much of an effect on fish of
the Caranx genus, which actively out and
hover near their tentacles for protection.

15. SHERLOCK HOLMES ONCE HAD TO


CONTEND WITH A LIONS MANE
JELLYFISH.

Scott Sherrill-Mix, Flickr

The worlds greatest detective had never


faced a squishier adversary. In The Adventure
of the Lions Mane (1926), he deduces that an
unlucky professor had been stung to death by
one of these spineless predatorswhich he

proceeds to track down and flatten with a


boulder. No word on whether or not well be
seeing Benedict Cumberbatch go toe-totentacle with one.

http://mentalfloss.com/article/61609/15-facts-about-lions-mane-jellyfish