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Monday, February 8, 2010

Lion's Mane Jellyfish

Lion's Mane Jellyfish is the largest jellyfish known. They inhabit the cold northern Artic Sea and northern parts of Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Smaller jellyfish of the same species are found in the waters off New Zealand and Australia.

Lion's Mane Jellyfish is the longest known animal in the world. In 1870, the jellyfish washed ashore on Massachusetts Bay had a bell diameter of 7 feet and 6 inches. Its tentacles measured a whopping 120 feet, which is the longer than the largest known blue whale.

Those found in the northern regions are larger than those in lower latitudes are. The bell diameter may vary as much as 20 inches to 8 feet. The tentacles also vary proportionately. The tentacles are glutinous and are found in eight bunches. Each bunch has more than 100 tentacles arranged in rows.

The bell is shaped like an eight-pointed star. The thin silvery tentacle groups are attached to the bell's sub-umbrella. Another set of shorter arms protrude from the center of the bell. They form a colorful entanglement, which is visual treat.

Lion's Many Jellyfish are found in a range of colors with the larger ones seen in crimson to dark purple. The smaller ones are found in light orange to tan. These jellyfish got the name due to the color and appearance, which reminds the spectator of lion's mane.

Lion's Mane Jellyfish is seen in colder waters and not in the warm oceans. They are seen mostly in open sea. Towards the end of their lifespan, they show a tendency to settle in sheltered bays and shallow waters. They remain near the water surface and are swept forward by the ocean currents.

In the open ocean, Lion's Mane Jellyfish forms a protective island for many species of fishes like shrimp, harvestfish and medusa. They get ample food and are safe from predators while under the shelter of Lion's Mane.

Lion's Mane feed on small fishes, moon jellies, ctenophores and zooplankton. They are preyed by larger fishes and jellyfish, sea birds and turtles.

Lion's Mane reproduces sexually during medusa stage and asexually during polyp stage. They are seen to increase in number during the beginning of the spring season. As the water warms, most of them perish. By the end of summer, those remaining will grow to a bell size of about 6 inches. The normal lifespan of Lion's Mane is one year.

The population of Lion's Mane doesn't vary much from year to year. It may show a slight change depending on the variation in the water temperature. It is possible to predict the population and bell size, if the water temperature is known.

If the ocean has Lion's Mane presence, the best time to go for swimming without protection is early spring, when it is too small to hurt or late summer, when there are very few left to harm. During the entire summer months from June to first half of August, it is advisable to take precautions for jellyfish sting.

Lion's mane jellyfish, or Cyanea capillata, has made a sensational appearance in literature, most notably in Sherlock Holmes's 'The Adventure of the Lion's Mane.' However, lion's mane jellyfish is nowhere close to as dangerous as it is made out to be in popular culture. A sting from the lion's mane jellyfish is not only incapable of causing human deaths; all it does is cause an itchy rash and mild burning sensation. Although the rash can be painful for sensitive individuals and the toxins in the venom may cause an allergic reaction, the stings from a lion's mane jellyfish can be treated by application of vinegar.

However, lion's mane jellyfish are very interesting marine creatures. To begin with, they live in the harshest weather conditions. They are found in the freezing cold waters of the Arctic Ocean and Northern Pacific Ocean during the coldest months of the year. They rarely descend below 42 degrees latitude and are not found in the southern hemisphere at all.

The lion's mane jellyfish can attain enormous size. In fact, the largest Lion's Mane jellyfish is not merely the largest species of jellyfish in the world; it is the largest animal in the world. The one specimen of Lion's Mane which was found in Massachusetts Bay in 1870 was over 7 feet in diameter and its tentacles were longer than 120 feet in length. However, the bell of the Artic Lion's Mane is known to be able to grow up to 8 feet in diameter, and their tentacles can acquire the length of 150 feet. That is much longer than blue whale, which is generally thought to be the largest animal in the world.

Lion's mane jellyfish are highly variable in size. While the largest lion's mane jellyfish are found in the northernmost peaks of the Arctic ocean, the size of the jellyfish diminishes as you travel further south. The jellyfish found between 40 degrees latitude and 42 degrees latitude are amongst the smallest varieties of lion's mane jellyfish. On an average, the body of the lion's mane jellyfish usually only grows up to 8 feet in diameter. Similarly the length of the tentacles also decreases as the size itself begins to diminish. The color of the lion's mane jellyfish is also dependent on its size. The largest specimens of the lion's mane jellyfish are a dark crimson in color. As their size reduces, the color becomes lighter until it is light orange or tan.

The bell of the Lion's Mane jellyfish is divided into eight lobes. Each lobe has a cluster of 60 to 130 tentacles at the margin of its gelatinous body. Lion's mane jellyfish also have a number of oral arms near the mouth to facilitate transporting the food to the jellyfish's mouth. Lion's Mane, like most other species of jellyfish, is carnivorous and feeds on zooplankton, small fish, and ctenophores. Lion's Mane jellyfish is also cannibalistic and feeds on other jellyfish like moon jellies. The predators of the lion's mane jellyfish include seabirds, larger fish, other jellyfish species and sea turtles.

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