The lion’s mane jelly (Cyanea capillata), named for its red and yellow tentacles, is the largest known species of jellyfish. The species has been recorded as reaching up to 120 feet (about 36.6m) long. Lion’s mane jellies generally prefer cool, boreal waters. The species is mainly found in the Arctic, northern Atlantic, and northern Pacific Oceans. They can also be found south of boreal ecosystems but are less plentiful and smaller. Stings of the lion’s mane jelly can be deadly to smaller animals but not to fish of the Caranx genus. These fishes hover near the invertebrate’s tentacles, leaving them protected. Lion’s mane jellies are an important food source for some seabirds, large fish, and turtles, including the vulnerable leatherback sea turtle. Lion’s mane jellies have complex life cycles, reproducing sexually and asexually, like other jellies. But, the average lifespan for this species is one year.
Photo and haiku: Samantha Oester