Friday, 27 August 2010

The Lion's Mane

Seven foot across, with stinging tentacles 120ft long, the largest recorded lion's mane jellyfish was washed up on the coast of Massachusetts in 1870. By comparison, the specimens floating off Adnamurchan are mere tiddlers. This one, which looked quite unpleasant enough at a foot across, was seen off Sron Bheag while the Diary and its family were kayaking recently.

Their nasty looks and fearsome reputation belie the facts: while their sting will bring the average person out in an itchy rash, they are only of any danger to people who have sensitive skin or an allergic reaction. The standard treatment, as described in a recent post from Rachael here, is the gentle application of vinegar.

This year has seen very few jellyfish off the Ardnamurchan coast. The most common are the purple moon jellyfish, which are harmless. The lion's mane may not be as fierce a beast as his reputation paints him, but you have to admit he makes a very pretty picture.

More information on the lion's mane jellyfish here.

On the subject of marine beasties, Hughie MacLachlan, who greets visitors at the top of the tower at Ardnamurchan lighthouse, contacted the Diary yesterday to report that he had just seen a sunfish, only the second he had ever seen, swimming off the Point. Three basking sharks had been around all day, one about 10m long, but the sunfish caused considerable excitement. Sadly, Hughie didn't have a camera with him but there's more about this strange fish, and a picture, here.


  1. You had me going there for a bit. In my part of the world (USA: Minnesota & Wisconsin) a sunfish is one of a number of pan fish, 3 to 6 inches long and nearly as "tall." They're the fish little kids catch off the dock with bits of worm as bait.

    Info here

  2. Hi Blake - thanks for the comment - good to know this Diary is being read so far afield.