Lion’s Mane and Moon Jellyfish on Fife’s Shoreline

Over the last few years, we appear to be getting ever increasing numbers of jellyfish getting washed up along Fife’s coastline. The two most common species are the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish and the Moon Jellyfish – these often appear as blue or orange jelly ‘circles‘ on the strand-line of any given beach.

Lion's Mane Jellyfish - Kinghorn Harbour

Lion’s Mane Jellyfish – Kinghorn Harbour


Lion’s Mane Jellyfish can grow up to 6 feet (180cm) across, and one was sighted off the west coast of Scotland with 120 ft long tentacles – jellyfish of this sort of size could have fatal stings to them, but the much smaller ones found commonly around Scottish coasts will only cause mild stings, similar in strength to stinging nettles. The sting can be treated with vinegar to restrict the stinging sensation.

The Moon Jellyfish, however, is generally a smaller genus, it is usually 5 – 40cm in diameter, and is also often found washed up around Fife’s coastline. It’s sting is almost undetectable by humans.

Moon Jellyfish - Kirkcaldy Beach

Moon Jellyfish – Kirkcaldy Beach


Both jellyfish feed on microscopic plankton that float in large numbers in most of our oceans and seas.





57 thoughts on “Lion’s Mane and Moon Jellyfish on Fife’s Shoreline

    • Thanks Sylvia πŸ™‚ I know that quite a few people, especially women, don’t like jellyfish, and I can understand why. I’ve been amazed at how many we get up here, compared to the warmer waters of Cornwall, some 450 miles south of Fife.


      • I think we are quite lucky in the UK when it comes to jellyfish Sylvia, most of the ones we get close to our beaches are relatively harmless. I imagine in warmer waters such as those off Hong kong, the jellyfish have much more potent stings 😦
        We do very occasionally get the Portugese Man o’ War off Fife’s coastline, which will give a very painful sting (and has been known to be fatal to humans), but thankfully these really are quite rare up here!

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    • I’ve been swimming in the sea up here with fair numbers of both types in the water Gilly, and haven’t had more than a slight sting from the Lion’s Mane jellyfish, but I don’t think I would be so keen to go in if I came across any that were bigger than one foot across!! πŸ™‚


      • I’m sure it does Laura 😦
        In Cornwall, there has been a very noticeable affect of global warming with regards to one of the bird species. When I was a kid, the Little Egret was a bird worth cycling 30-40 miles to go and see, but by the turn of the millennium, they are found now in every estuary location in the West Country!! And of course, their food chain will be very directly linked to the oceans currents!

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    • Thank you Ruth πŸ™‚ And yes, I agree with you jellyfish are amazing creatures, it’s such a shame we get so many washed up on our shores at certain times of the years – it’s the unfortunate thing about them being basically free floaters (planktonic), or at best very weak swimmers.

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  1. Jellyfish are so beautiful, but I know next to nothing about the different species. This is one I don’t think I’ve seen before – a nice find, and probably quite hard to photograph. I can only imagine the giant one sighted off the west coast!

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    • They are beautiful creatures Jo, especially when they are in the sea rather than washed up on the beach! I would love to claim they were difficult to photo, but alas they were just basically point and shoot photos! LOL! πŸ™‚
      The beast off the west coast sounds amazing, I would love to see a jellyfish that size – but I wouldn’t fancy swimming with it!! I’ve been swimming on Fife’s south coast with the two types of jellyfish I’ve photographed here (the jellyfish in the water were of a similar size), and at worst you get something akin to a stinging nettle sting from the Lion’s Mane jellyfish, and you don’t notice the moon jellyfish at all πŸ™‚

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      • I didn’t know that – I don’t remember seeing jellyfish anywhere where I’ve actually been swimming. I’ve seen shoals of them from the boat around Iona and Mull, though. It’s always good to know if they’re harmful or not!

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      • I was really surprised how many jellyfish there are up here, far more than we ever got in Cornwall πŸ™‚ And you get star fish and sea potatoes (both different forms of echinoids) on the beaches in the Firth of Forth πŸ™‚

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  2. Interesting jellyfish! So different to the ones here! And of course, the tropical waters here and further north have many, many deadly species. We have the box jellyfish around here, and the Blue bottle. As a whole species or genus, they are incredible, not least because they are the only creature that is actually increasing in numbers, adapting as the seas become more and more polluted! Even new species are being discovered! So it is in some way related to climate change, but more directly, excess of anaerobic conditions in the sea water from nutrient charged effluent!
    Thanks for posting these. I am quite fascinated with the Lion’s Mane jellyfish. And no tentacles, it seems….

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    • That’s really interesting Amanda about the jellyfish being able to adapt well to changing conditions, and in some cases thriving with the sea pollution from nutrient charged effluent – I would have guessed that they would be very venerable to changes, they just look so delicate! I imagine you get some amazing jellyfish around your waters. With regards to the Lion’s Mane jellyfish, they definitely have tentacles, but with Moon Jellyfish, the tentacles are very short, so once they are stranded on a beach, they are very hard to see.


      • Ah! That makes sense! They are strange creatures! Some scientists think that at some stage in the future, that Jellyfish willl be the only sea creature as the sea water will have such little oxygen that only creatures that ‘breath’ anaerobically can survive! A sad thought indeed. The oceans are so vast and we use them as a waste tip, covertly or overtly! Perhaps that is a good topic for a post, to create some awareness of the problem and hopefully some change?

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      • That certainly is a very sad thought about the seas only having enough oxygen in them for jellyfish to survive 😦
        It does sound like a good idea for a post, or multiple posts from different people, I’ll definitely do one at some point over the next few months – I’ll get some appropriate photos πŸ™‚
        I was thinking yesterday, (a frightening idea in itself!! Lol!) that I should have realised that jellyfish can adapt to different environments, they are what is known as living fossils, the oldest known jellyfish come from rocks that are over 500 million years old – the more specialised an animal becomes, the less likely that it will survive a drastic change in conditions, as I’m sure you already know Amanda.
        That’s why I’ve stated for a long time that mankind is destined to be one of the shorter surviving species, despite all our advances in technology!

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      • I think you’re probably right Amanda, but on a more cheery note, it may not happen for a good few hundreds of thousands of years yet πŸ™‚
        On a geological timescale that is a very short amount of time though! Lol!!
        Simplicity is definitely the key to survival, the first known life forms on earth are still definitely very much in evidence today, the blue-green algae. If simplistic life forms live longer, I should have a very long life!! LOL! πŸ™‚


      • I am not planning on being here in a world without prawns, crab, mussels nor fish! I can’t eat jellyfish!! The blue green algae isn’t great company either! Lol!! Perhaps humans woll evolve a digestive system that could cope with this kind of product?

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      • Lol!!! If it reaches the point of the only sea life being jellyfish Amanda, I think having a stomach that has evolved to cope with jellyfish will be the least of your problems!! LOL! πŸ™‚


  3. How interesting! I’d never heard of or seen “Lion’s Mane” jellyfish. I remember once a favourite beach in Harris was awash with the kind of jellyfish that have four purple circles in them. These were known to our family friends as “Co-op jellyfish” because of the old logo of the Co-op!

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