Lion’s Mane Jelly
Friday Harbor Marine Laboratories, University of Washington
San Juan Island, Washington
Archival Pigment Print
The lion’s mane is the world’s largest jellyfish species, its bell reaching a diameter of one meter (three feet) or more. Like all jellyfish, it’s a carnivore, feeding on planktonic animals that drift into its curtain of tentacles, which can stretch for several meters. The tentacles (relatively short in the juvenile seen here) arise from eight crescents along the bell’s margin and are armed with batteries of stinging cells. When an unsuspecting animal brushes against the cells, it triggers the release of sticky or poisonous filaments that entangle and subdue the animal. On a diet of animal plankton, small fish, and other jellies, the lion’s mane jelly grows quickly, reaching its adult size in less than a year.