‘Monster’ Jellyfish invasion leaves beachgoers ‘gasping in disbelief’

An apparent invasion of monster jellyfish has led people "gasping in disbelief" as droves of the alien-like creatures swarm beaches across the UK.

But it seems there are more than ever of these alien-like creatures in Dorset's waters at the moment.

Even their neighbours in Cornwall are being invaded by the gelatinous creatures, with people 'gasping in disbelief' at one 'monster' jellyfish which was spotted on Polkerris beach.

Dr Abigail McQuatters-Gollop, plankton ecologist and lecturer at the University of Plymouth, says the increase is partly to do with the hot temperatures we've been seeing this summer.

She said: "It's this time of year, we've had quite a warm summer. We've had really good weather this summer – those are the oceanographic conditions where jellyfish tend to do quite well.

"The conditions this summer have been really warm which means the water column is quite stable.

"We've had some rain and stuff the last couple of weeks but up until now it's been pretty good, and those are the exact conditions that plankton do well in this time of year.

"Normally you do get a lot of jellyfish this time of year but it looks like right now in August we've had more than we usually do.

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"Especially the compass jellyfish, we've seen a few of those around now. So it really is the weather conditions."

But the expert also says climate change also plays a part – and we could see even more jellyfish in the future.

She added: "The other aspect is, as the climate changes, we're going to probably see more jellyfish in general.

"There's been some research and publications done on that and again it's because these warm temperatures cause stabilities in water columns.

"It's a great environment for plankton and for jellyfish, in particular, to live in. We can probably expect to see more in the coming years and when we look at the past 60 to 70 years of data we've seen an increase already in the South West."

Sea kayaker Rupert Kirkwood, who studies Cornwall and Plymouth's coastline, said: "There are unprecedented numbers of compass jellyfish around this year, and there was a boom in the other types back in June.

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"I wonder whether the very settled Spring might have helped the breeding cycle.

"There have certainly been more sand eels and whitebaits around inshore than usual, so perhaps the conditions that have been favourable for their development, is also good for jellies. The clear water and calm weather have helped with the watching, as well!"

Jellyfish are most commonly found in warm, shallow waters close to beaches, which is why they get washed up onto beaches.

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