Lion's Mane Jelly   Cyanea capillata



The largest of the local jellies, the lion's mane (also called the sea blubber and sea nettle) can reach up to 6 ft in diameter, although it is usually much smaller in Puget Sound.  Produced annually, large individuals can be found from July through September.  It can be distinguished from the other large local jelly, the fried egg jelly, by it's a vivid dark red color and the division of the swimming bell fringe into eight lobes.  The thick frilly material below the bell and inside the reddish tentacles are the oral arms and are extensions of the mouth which, like the tentacles, contain stinging cells.  The tentacles, extended when fishing, can be up to 10 ft long.  They eat small fish and crustaceans.


Found at the base of the notch between each bell lobe is a sense organ called a rhopalium.  Found in other true jellies (scyphomedusa), it senses both changes in orientation and light.  Surprisingly one species, the box jelly from the tropics, has a very complex eye quite similar to ours and is thought to actively hunt for its fish prey.


The lion's mane jelly occurs circumpolar and as far south as Oregon.  It mainly occurs near shore, at or near the surface and is often stranded at low tide.  Be careful touching a stranded jelly as the stinging cells may still be active even though it appears dead.


The Lion's mane sting can be quite painful.  If you are stung experts recommend that you: 1) Remove tentacles by lifting off rather than scraping. 2) Rinse affected area with sea water - not fresh water.  3) Deactivate remaining nematocysts by rinsing with a dilute acid such as vinegar or, in an emergency, human urine. 4) If nematocysts still remain, remove by covering with wet baking power or flour and scraping off with a dull knife. 5) Finally treat pain with topical anesthetics and see a doctor.