Britain’s seas could be turned into a “jellyfish soup” this summer, scientists have warned swimmers. The number of jellyfish living in the UK’s coastal waters is on the rise, says the Marine Conservation Society (MCS).
“There is strong evidence that jellyfish numbers are increasing around the world, including UK seas, and these increases have been linked to factors such as pollution, over-fishing and possibly climate change,” said the MCS’ Peter Richardson.
The society is now asking beachgoers to take part in its survey of jellyfish numbers to help learn more about them.
Species usually seen in British waters are the barrel, moon, compass, blue and lion’s mane jellyfish.
Those brave enough to get close to the creatures are being urged to “look but not touch” as not all have a mild sting.
Some – like the lion’s mane – which is found as far south as the Irish Sea and Norfolk, have a strong, but non-fatal sting.
Torness nuclear power station, near Dunbar in Lothian, was recently shut down for two days after huge amounts of jellyfish swam into the seas near the site.
Fishermen on three trawlers helped to clear the moon jellyfish from the waters around the station.
EDF Energy, which operates the plant, said the reactors were closed as a precautionary measure and there was no danger to the public.
Jellyfish are the staple diet of the critically-endangered leatherback turtles, seasonal visitors to British waters that migrate from their tropical nesting beaches to feed.