large orange jellyfish

Lion’s Mane medusa  (AKA Sea blubber or Sea nettle) – click to enlarge

Cruising on the remote, outer Central Coast of BC, we had anchored in a cove on Stryker Island. It was an utterly gray day with an almost steady rain, so I declined the invitation to go paddling. Taking some “alone time” in the relatively dry confines of our boat seemed the better option.

When the rain finally stopped for a few minutes, I ventured out to the foredeck with my camera, in case anything interesting could be found among the copious bits of seaweed, wood and other debris that were floating by in the current. To my delight, a large orange jellyfish (above) was undulating towards the boat.

Despite the technical deficiencies of this photo, I like it, for two reasons. First, it was taken in the wild, with only the available light of a dreary afternoon. By contrast, most jellyfish photos that you can find online seem to have been taken in aquariums, with good light and shooting conditions.

The second reason is that I’ve tried unsuccessfully over the years to photograph jellyfish from kayaks and dinghies. It never works for me. Either the jellyfish floats away right at the crucial moment, or the current pushes my vessel off course when I let go of the paddle to pick up my camera, or I paddle hard to get properly situated, creating too much turbulence for a clear shot. But on that dreary day at Stryker Island, I was finally able to manage a reasonably clear jellyfish shot. No wonder I like the photo!

The Lion’s Mane medusa, AKA Sea blubber or Sea nettle (Cyanea capillata), is the world’s largest jellyfish. It’s commonly found along the northwest Pacific coast in the warmer months of spring, summer and fall. In our area they’re usually about 50 cm (20 inches) in diameter, with trailing, 2 metre long tentacles – but in high latitudes they can grow to a staggering 6.6 ft (2 m) across, with 9 metre long tentacles!

Juvenile haddock and other small fish swim among the tentacles to take shelter from predators, but for the rest of us, a safe distance is advised. These jellyfish pack a painful sting, so you won’t want to go swimming when they’re around, or touch one that has washed up on the beach. Look and admire these oddly beautiful, pulsating orange creatures – but best not to touch.

About Laurie MacBride, Eye on Environment

Photographer and writer focusing on nature and the environment

14 responses »

  1. Cecilia says:

    Great information, and i like the photo. Thanks for sharing.

  2. […] Beauty on a Dark Day – this can be a terrific shot captured and shared right here by Laurie MacBride right here on the west coast of Canada.  A wet and dreary day units the stage for this convergence of parts, giving Laurie the completely good alternative and composition to seize a colourful jellyfish going about its day. […]

  3. […] Beauty on a Dark Day – this is a terrific shot captured and shared here by Laurie MacBride here on the west coast of Canada. A rainy and dreary day sets the stage for this convergence of elements, giving Laurie the absolutely perfect opportunity and composition to capture a colorful jellyfish going about its day. […]

  4. How fun to spot the Jellyfish and get a photo of it. The nice orange colors shows up well in the water.

  5. Susan says:

    Gorgeous, absolutely stunning…thank you, Laurie. Magnificent, I say! Susan

  6. Well the mask seemed a good idea. I could take stills and video. The camera resolution wasn’t very good but the videos didn’t look too bad. The main problem with the still photography was trying to frame the photo without a viewfinder. Ended up with quite a few goofy shots.

  7. kimmanleyort says:

    That is incredible, Laurie. And, I liked hearing more about jellyfish.

  8. Very good capture Laurie! They are always a dramatic sight to see. A few years back I was swimming with our grandsons and one of these jellyfish floated by. I had a cheap diving mask with a camera built in and managed to get some so-so shots. In the process managed to get a little too close and got stung, much to the delight of the grand kiddos. Sea Nettle is an apt name as the sting was about equivalent to stinging nettle which I unfortunately also have experience with.

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