Swarms of jellyfish are gathered on the Dorset coast…but fortunately for holidaymakers, not in the sea!
The collection centre for the global chain of Sea Life aquariums is based in a behind the scene area in Weymouth Sea Life Park, and is currently housing the biggest collection of jellyfish ever assembled in the UK.
More than a thousand jellies in total, they include 13 different species ranging from venomous compass jellyfish to bizarrely colourful flower-hat jellyfish.
All captive bred, some at the Weymouth facility, some in Japan and Australia, they are destined for jellyfish displays at Sea Life centres all over Europe.
“We have already shipped 70 to northern Italy and another 40 to Helsinki this week,” said curator Derek Scales.
Others are destined for special Jellyfish Discovery exhibitions in Germany, while in the UK, Sea Life centres in Scarborough and Great Yarmouth will also be receiving jellies.
“Jellyfish are among the strangest of creatures in our seas, having no brains, lungs or hearts and in most cases, no eyes either,” said Derek.
“There are well over 1,000 different species and they’re found all over the world, and because they can tolerate big changes in temperature and salinity many scientists believe they will increase in numbers to fill the gaps left as other species disappear through overfishing.”
Strangest among the current crop of jellies in Weymouth is perhaps the pink ‘warty jellyfish’ which packs a nasty sting which can result in painful blisters and fever.
One species not in the Weymouth collection is the potentially deadly Lion’s Mane jellyfish which can have tentacles trailing up to 120 feet behind its body or ‘bell.’
Derek and his colleagues suspect they may be able to add this species this summer, however, as it is an increasingly frequent visitor to the seas off the UK coast.
Some of Jellies can be seen through a large observation window at Weymouth SEA LIFE Park