Jelllyfish sightings signal a ‘good year’

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Sightings of barrel jellyfish like the one found washed up on Heysham beach last week signal a good year for the species, according to one of the country’s leading jellyfish experts.

Dr Emily Baxter, marine conservation officer for North West Wildlife Trusts, said good conditions in the Irish Sea in spring - which dictate how many jellyfish are produced - mean lots of jellyfish have survived.

Kerry Warriner was out cycling with friends Stacie Hully and Heidi Burton, and Heidi’s son Kian Marchman, when they stopped to cool off and have a paddle in the sea on Wednesday lunchtime, July 1.

Kerry said: “The water went out and there it was, this huge jellyfish. It was quite a shock and it’s the biggest one I’ve seen either here or abroad.”

Dr Baxter, who is a renowned jellyfish expert added: “The current conditions and warm weather mean there is lots of good food out there for them including plankton, which could also be boosting the populations of small fish and in turn is bringing unusual visitors like humpback whales in.

“Stories about jellyfish are often linked to climate change, pollution and/or overfishing and in some places around the world there are certainly links with the above things, but jellyfish blooms are a natural phenomenon.

“It is likely that recent sightings of large jellyfish are due it being a good year for them.”

Dr Baxter advised people not to touch the jellyfish as they sting.