For shear impressiveness, it's hard to surpass the Lion's mane
jelly. Just imagine encountering a gelatinous beast that can reach a bell diameter
of 2 meters (that's over 6 feet folks!). Individuals off the West Coast are usually far more modest, however,
with bells no wider than 50 cm. Cyanea
resembles the egg-yolk jelly (Phacellophora
but has a bell margin divided into 8 lobes (rather than 16), with 8 rhopalia and 8
clusters of up to 150 tentacles each. The seemingly tangled oral arms are
short and compact, with the tentacles extending much longer. The tentacles are
very sticky, a useful trait for a jelly that preys on other gelatinous creatures.
Body color can range from deep red to reddish-purple, with younger individuals
having a yellowish-brown hue. As seen in the photo, the bell has an 8-pointed star
shape at the end of the contraction while swimming. The Lion's mane jelly is
generally a summertime visitor to nearshore waters. It ranges from Arctic and North
Pacific Ocean areas to Alaska, British Columbia and Washington, but is rarely seen as far
south as California. The truly massive giants are more likely to be seen in the
northern part of the range.
All photographs © David
Wrobel and may not be used or copied without permission!