Jellyfish experts call for help with survey as sightings rise
FELIXSTOWE/IPSWICH: Experts are today warning people to “look but don’t touch” with several species of stinging jellyfish spotted off coasts around the country.
With the sea and rivers warming up, reports have been received of jellyfish off Felixstowe, but also in the dock at Ipswich, having swum up the River Orwell.
The Marine Conservation Society (mcs) is urging people to keep a look-out for the creatures, some of the most bizarre but fascinating marinelife found in UK waters – and is hoping people will let them know what they see to help record how many and what types are arriving.
“Lion’s mane jellyfish and other species can give a painful sting, so as ever, we are encouraging holidaymakers to take part in the MCS jellyfish survey and report their jellyfish encounters, but the key message is look, don’t touch!” said Peter Richardson, MCS biodiversity programme manager.
The most likely jellyfish encounter is the common moon jellyfish, present around the coast since April and May.
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Barrel jellyfish and massive blue jellyfish bloom have also been spotted.
In the last three years the MCS survey has also detected an increasing presence in UK waters of hazardous jellyfish.
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In 2007, 2008 and 2009 Portuguese Man of War were reported in large numbers in the south west, and the Mauve Stinger in huge numbers off Ireland, Northern Ireland and the west coast of Scotland – though not off Suffolk.
“It remains to be seen if these reports represent the start of a trend of these species occurring more regularly in UK waters,” said Mr Richardson.
“The jellyfish survey is an excellent way for people to get involved in finding out more about our threatened seas. In some parts of the world jellyfish numbers appear to be increasing, and scientists have linked these increases to factors such as pollution, over-fishing and possibly climate change.
“We should consider jellyfish populations as important indicators of the state of our seas, and the MCS jellyfish survey helps provide some of the information we need to understand them more.”
n To take part in the jellyfish survey go to www.mcsuk.org
n Have you seen jellyfish at Felixstowe or Ipswich this year? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org