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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The giant jellyfish that washed up in Devon - so big it will make you go wobbly

By Caroline Graham

It is a sight to make even the bravest of beachgoers feel a little wobbly. But this 4ft jellyfish washed up on the North Devon coast should not put anyone off dipping a toe in the water.

Despite its size, the Rootmouth Jellyfish - also known as the Dustbin-lid - is more or less harmless, with a 'very mild' sting.

The scientific name of the species is Rhizostoma octopus, because of its eight major tentacles. It is fairly common off Britain and often becomes stranded ashore by currents and winds.

The huge Moon Jellyfish found on a beach in Devon

Big surprise: The huge 4ft moon jellyfish found on a Devon beach today

It was spotted by a woman at a popular beauty spot on the coast of north Devon.

She then found photographer Peter Stapleton who captured this image. But he is keeping the exact location secret - to avoid spreading panic.

The average moon jellyfish

Average size: Moon jellyfish usually only grow to 12 inches, above

The jellyfish - real name Aurelia aurita - can cause a painful rash on human skin if it comes into contact with tentacles.

Mr Stapleton said: 'A woman came up to me and said there was a huge jellyfish over on the other side of the beach.

'It was the biggest I've seen, about 4ft long with a large body and tentacles.

'As well as people there was other wildlife around it, including herons, but they seemed as puzzled as the rest of us and left it alone.'

The species - also known as common jellyfish or saucer jelly - have no bones or brain, and their colourful bodies are 95 per cent water.

They usually grow to around 12 inches (30cm).