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Giant, stinging jellyfish washes up on beach

Jennifer Earl, September 19, 2018 7:00PM Kids News

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A New Zealand family stumbled upon a giant jellyfish while on a beach. Picture: Adam Dickinson media_cameraA New Zealand family stumbled upon a giant jellyfish while on a beach. Picture: Adam Dickinson


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Children playing on a beach have found a massive, moving, poisonous creature called a lion’s mane jellyfish, which is the world’s biggest jellyfish species.

They have been known to grow as big as a blue whale.

Adam Dickinson and his children stumbled across the huge, pink blob on Parkiri Beach, 90km north of Auckland, New Zealand, early on Monday morning.

It was unlike anything Mr Dickinson or his children had ever seen.

“My initial* thought was don’t let my kids touch it as they went running up to have a look,” said Mr Dickinson.

The Dickinson children compared the pink creature to a “volcano.”

“It was pretty incredible and really hard to describe,” Mr Dickinson told news agency Yahoo7. “It almost looked like a load of muscles contracting*.”

“It’s alive,” his son confirmed.

The family stared at the jellyfish, and sure enough, it continued to move.

“It was pretty amazing to see. Also, the other jellyfish we found on the beach, we turned them upside down to see if it would look similar to this one and none of them did,” Mr Dickinson said.

“This one was definitely different. We have never seen anything like it. It was pretty cool.”

Melbourne Aquarium's new jellyfish. Lions mane sea jellyfish. media_cameraA lion’s mane jellyfish at Melbourne Aquarium.


  • Also known as the “giant jellyfish,” their scientific name is Cyanea capillata.
  • They can grow as large as a blue whale. Tentacles can reach 57m long and it can have a bell – or body – up to 1.8m across, according to Oceana, an international conservation organisation.
  • Most lion’s mane jellyfish live in the ocean around Australia and in the cooler parts of the Pacific Ocean (such as around New Zealand) and the Arctic.
  • “Its mane of long, hair-like tentacles hanging from the underside of its bell-shaped body is the inspiration behind the lion mane’s common name,” Oceana explains on its website. “The mouth is situated on the belly’s underside, surrounded by tentacles that are divided into eight clusters of up to 150 tentacles each.”
Lions mane jellyfish Bonne Bay Gulf of St Lawrence Photograph by David Doubilet National Geographic media_cameraLion’s mane jellyfish photographed at Bonne Bay Gulf of St Lawrence, off the coast of Canada. Picture: David Doubilet/National Geographic
  • They feed on plankton*, small fish and other tiny organisms, their toxic* tentacles extending out like a net to catch and paralyse* their prey.
  • It doesn’t have a separate mouth and anus, or bottom. Food goes in and waste comes out the same place.
  • Large lion’s mane jellyfish often have a group of fish that live with them for safety, avoiding the jellyfish’s tentacles themselves but getting protection as the fish’s predators stay away.
At almost a metre in diameter this Lions Mane jelly fish is a giant. It was photographed in 8 - 9 metres of water off Waterfall Bluff on the Tasman Peninsula on 28/11/06 by local marine scientist Hugh Pedersen. media_cameraThis lion’s mane jellyfish is almost one metre across. It was photographed off southeast Tasmania. Picture: Hugh Pedersen
  • If you see a lion’s mane jellyfish, don’t touch it. If you are swimming, swim away. If you are stung, place a cold pack on the sting to reduce the pain and get medical help if the pain is severe.


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initial: first

contracting: tightening

plankton: group of tiny, drifting organisms that live in the ocean

toxic: poisonous

paralyse: freeze; stop it moving



1. What are two common names for Cyanea capillata?
2. How big can they grow?
3. Is it possible you could find one washed up on an Australian beach?
4. Are they poisonous?
5. Should you touch one if you see it?


What is the strangest thing that you have ever seen? Write a story about this.

Time: Allow 20 minutes

Curriculum Links: English

Extension: Create an imaginary animal that is stranger and more unusual than the Lions Mane Jellyfish. Draw it, name it and write a description of the animal for a Kid’s News article about it.

Time: Allow 30 minutes

Curriculum Links: English, The Arts – Visual Arts


After reading the article, with a partner, highlight all the openers you can find in blue. Discuss if they are powerful and varied openers or not. Why do you think the journalists has used a mix of simple and power openers? Would you change any, and why?

HAVE YOUR SAY: What’s the strangest sea creature you have seen or would like to see? Why? Use full sentences. No one-word answers.

Extra Reading in animals