If you have gazed into the waters of Bonne Bay while out on a kayak, boat trip, or even by just peering off a wharf, you may have noticed that the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish is making its seasonal appearance in the bay. The Lion’s Mane is the largest species of jellyfish in the world, able grow a two meter wide bell (the round body part) and its tentacles can be longer than 30 meters! Even more impressively it only takes them around three months to get to that size, so keep an eye out while swimming in the bay!
What we imagine when we think of a jellyfish is actually the fourth stage of its lifecycle, the medusa stage. The other three stages include a larval period, a polyp stage (when they look much like a sea anemone), and an ephyra stage, a bud that will eventually become the medusa, or the jellyfish that we all know.
While in the so-called medusa stage the jellyfish has long tentacles flowing from its under-side, that are similar to Medusa’s tentacle head described in Greek mythology. Unlike Medusa, the Lion’s Mane doesn’t rely on turning its unsuspecting victims to stone; instead they use their tentacles to sting and capture plankton and small fish to eat. These tentacles can also harm us, giving an unpleasant, but nonfatal, sting. If you are unlucky enough to be stung this summer, use vinegar or seawater to help soothe the pain, do not take your medical advice from the show “Friends” and have someone urinate on the stung area. If you do, all you will do is create an awkward interpersonal situation.
If you are interested in getting a closer look at these amazing creatures without getting stung, the Bonne Bay Marine Station in Norris Point have recently set up their jellyfish tanks. Come down to the aquarium to learn more about the Lion’s Mane Jelly and all the other spectacular life in the bay.