Lion's Mane Jellyfish
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.