Lion's Mane Jelly
Common Name: Lion’s mane jelly
Latin Name: Cyanea capillata
Size/weight: locally, up to 12 inches in diameter. (But in the Arctic have been measured 7 feet across with tentacles 100 feet long – that’s longer than a blue whale! Thus lion’s manes are the largest known species of jelly ... and one of the world’s largest animals.)
Range: northern Pacific and Atlantic oceans (including Long Island Sound, where they often are seen in July & August); Arctic Ocean.
Habitat: Floats near surface in offshore waters.
Diet: zooplankton, fish eggs, small shrimp, occasionally other developing jellies.
Predators: Sea turtles, sunfish, some sea birds.
Description: Translucent with an interior body (or bell) coloring that varies with size: smaller individuals skew to orange, while larger specimen reach a vivid crimson. Thick tangle of oral arms under the bell, within long thin tentacles. Their stings are painful but generally not fatal. Like all jellies, they cannot swim against currents and instead are carried by currents (thus, they are a type of plankton). For that reason, and for the fact that they have no eyes, lion’s manes (and all jellies) do not pursue and intentionally sting swimmers.
Conservation Note: An abundant, non-threatened species.