Jellyfish appeal to North East beachgoers as water warms up

The Moon jellyfish is another species commonly found in North East waters. Pic: Paul Naylor.

The Moon jellyfish is another species commonly found in North East waters. Pic: Paul Naylor.

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Beachgoers are being urged to report jellyfish sightings on the North East coast as the weather gets warmer.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS), the UK’s leading marine charity, says the number of jellyfish blooms- when jellies mass together - is on the increase.

The Blue jellyfish is one of the most common in the North East. Pic: A. Pearson.

The Blue jellyfish is one of the most common in the North East. Pic: A. Pearson.

Every summer hundreds of reports of sightings are made to the MCS National Jellyfish Survey – now in its 14th year.

The survey is providing valuable information about where and when jellyfish occur in UK seas amid global reports of a rise in jellyfish numbers.

It’s been a relatively quiet year so far for jellyfish reports, unlike the last two, when record numbers of barrel jellyfish were reported around UK seas through the spring and summer.

Dr Peter Richardson, head of biodiversity and fisheries at the MCS, said: “There’s evidence that jellyfish numbers are increasing in some parts of the world, including UK seas.

The lion's man jellyfish if often found off the Northumberland coast. Pic: Calum Duncan.

The lion's man jellyfish if often found off the Northumberland coast. Pic: Calum Duncan.

"Some scientists argue that jellyfish numbers increase and then decrease normally every 20 years or so.

"However, others believe these increases are linked to factors such as pollution, over-fishing and possibly climate change.

"The MCS jellyfish survey helps provide some of the information we need to understand more about these ancient creatures.”

Sightings of blue and moon jellies are starting to pick up as the waters around the UK warm up, with mass strandings of both species in South West England and Wales.

Lion’s mane jellyfish, which have a powerful sting, have also been reported from beaches in Scotland and around the Irish Sea.

MCS says that anyone who comes across a jellyfish at sea or on the beach should look but don’t touch, but report their sightings at www.mcsuk.org

Jellies to look out for in the North East include:

* Moon (Aurelia aurita) - most widespread species, occurring all around the UK coast from May.

* Blue (Cyanea lamarkii) – less common than the moon, but can turn up anywhere.

* Lion’s mane (Cyanea capillata) - has the most powerful and painful sting of the UK species. It blooms during the summer but is rarely seen south of Northumberland.

“We still know relatively little about jellyfish and what drives changes in their numbers, so reporting even a single one can help," said Dr Richardson.