- A-Z Animals
Lion’s mane jellyfish, commonly called the hair jelly or giant jellyfish, is a species of marine jellyfish that inhabit the cold, subarctic waters of the oceans in the Northern Hemisphere. Some populations of the same species are sometimes observed in the Gulf of Mexico and in oceans off the coast of Australia and New Zealand. The lion’s mane jelly is named so because of its long, trailing tentacles that resemble the thick mane of a lion. With tentacles measuring up to 120 feet, it is the largest species of jellyfish in the world.
Size: These jellyfish vary in size, with the larger individuals (that live in the Arctic Ocean) having a bell diameter of 2-2.4 m (6 ft 7 in-8 ft) and the smaller ones (found in the lower latitudes) having a bell diameter of about 30-80 cm (12-31.5 in). The larger specimens have tentacles measuring 30-36.5 m (100-120 ft), which is bigger than a blue whale.
Weight: The largest of the lion’s mane jellyfish could weigh up to 480 lbs while average-sized specimens weigh about 200 lbs.
Color: Larger individuals range from bright crimson to dark purple and the smaller specimens are usually lighter orange to tan, but sometimes they can be colorless.
Body: Their bell consists of eight lobes or lappets, each of which consists of 70-150 tentacles set in four distinct rows. The rhopalium, a balance organ, exists at each of the indentations along the edge of the bell.
Mouth: Situated on the underside of the bell, the mouth has broad oral arms, which contain numerous stinging cells.
It is distributed across the Arctic, northern Pacific, and northern Atlantic Oceans. It is commonly found in the Irish Sea, English Channel, North Sea, and western Scandinavian waters. The lion’s mane jelly is sometimes found in the southwestern Baltic Sea.
They live in the open ocean and are typically found drifting within 20 m (65 ft) of the surface.
The lion’s mane jellyfish, like other jellyfish species, have a short lifespan. They live for only one year during which they go through four developmental stages, which include larval, polyp, ephyrae, and medusa stages.
Being a voracious predator, the giant jellyfish captures and eats zooplankton, small shrimps, rotifers, copepods, ctenophores, and small jellyfish species like moon jellyfish.
The lion’s mane jellyfish, like other jellyfish species, can reproduce sexually in their medusa stage and asexually in their polyp stage. Female jellyfish carry the fertilized eggs in their tentacles, where these eggs mature into larvae. Once the larvae become old enough, the female jellyfish attach them to a firm surface where they develop into polyps. These polyps start reproducing asexually, forming small creatures known as ephyrae. Each of these ephyrae gets separated from the stacks, eventually turning into the medusa form and then become full-grown jellyfish.
The lion’s mane jellyfish is not in danger of extinction and has not received any special status from the IUCN Red List.