A human-sized barrel jellyfish gave two scuba divers an unforgettable experience during a recent swim off the southwestern coast of England.
The majestic creature was snapped next to wildlife broadcaster Lizzie Daly, who was exploring the waters as part of “Wild Ocean Week,” a campaign she started to raise awareness about marine conservation.
The jellyfish just “appeared out of the murky water,” Daly said, bigger than any other barrel jellyfish they’d ever seen.
They swam with it for about an hour, Daly told Motherboard.
The barrel jellyfish is the largest jellyfish that lives off the coast of the UK.
Also called the dustbin-lid jellyfish, they have 8 frilly arms with stinging tentacles.
It’s rare for humans to swim with them, and most people only encounter them when they wash ashore.
Abbott and Daly encountered the jellyfish on the last day of Wild Ocean Week, which Daly started to inspire others and raise money for the Marine Conservation Society in the UK.
Daly said the goal of the week was to show people the wildlife living nearby. The giant jellyfish was a highlight, she said, both personally and in trying to achieve those conservation goals.
While the barrel jellyfish species can grow to be an impressive 3 feet long, the jellyfish Daly and photographer Dan Abbott encountered appeared to be at least the size of Daly, including the extra length added by her diving fins.
The barrel jellyfish may look like a giant of the sea, but it’s certainly not at the top of the food chain.
The mesmerizing animals are a favorite snack for leatherback sea turtles!