September 3, 2008

Rare Jellyfish Recovering at Aquarium After ‘Rescue’

A rare compass jellyfish found floating just off a holiday beach has been "rescued" by an RNLI lifeguard and given to an aquarium.

The jellyfish was spotted in the shallows just off Newquay's Towan Beach.

The creature, which is 10in long, is capable of inflicting a painful sting if handled.

It is now recovering in a special display at Newquay's Blue Reef Aquarium.

Blue Reef's David Waines said: "Concerned that it may pose a threat to bathers and surfers, the lifeguard caught it and brought it into the aquarium.

"It is relatively unusual to get reports of compass jellyfish and extremely rare to be able to put a live specimen on display."

Compass jellyfish get their name from the distinctive V-shaped markings and dark circle on their bells, which resemble an old- fashioned sea compass rose.

The body is fringed with 32 yellowy lobes and 24 fine tentacles arranged in groups of three.

Four frilly mouth tentacles hang from the centre of the body and can trail up to four feet in length.

The arrival of the jellyfish in our waters could be good news for the endangered leatherback turtle which is found in British waters. "As well as being incredible creatures in their own right, jellyfish also play a key role as a food source for the critically-endangered marine giant and recently there have been several sightings of turtles around the coast," said Mr Waines. He said quite a few of the plankton-eating compass jellyfish had been seen in local waters. They were usually further offshore, but were "at the mercy of the winds and tides".

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