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Britain's seas could be turned into 'jellyfish soup' this summer, scientists have warned British swimmers. Families that have made their own cut backs and decided to holiday in the U.K. this summer have been warned to keep a close eye on the jellyfish invasion and report all sightings immediately. The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) said: 'The number of jellyfish living in the U.K.'s coastal waters is on the rise. "There is strong evidence that jellyfish numbers are increasing around the world, including U.K. seas, and these increases have been linked to factors such as pollution, over-fishing and possibly climate change."
Eight dangers lurking around our shores
*Barrel or rootmouth jellyfish
The biggest jellyfish commonly found in British waters, up to a metre in diameter. Robust, with a spherical, solid, rubbery and largely white bell, fringed with purple. The bell lacks tentacles but eight thick, frilled arms hang down from the manubrium (the mouth and arms, underside and centre of bell). Harmless.
Up to 30cm. Similar shape to the lion's mane, but smaller with a blue bell through which radial lines can be seen. Mild sting.
Up to 40cm in diameter. Transparent, umbrella-shaped bell edged with short, hair-like tentacles. Recognised by the four distinct pale purple gonad rings in the bell. Manubrium bears four short, frilled arms. Mild sting.
Typically up to 30cm. Colour variable, but usually has pale umbrella-shaped bell with diagnostic brownish V-shaped markings, 32 marginal lobes and 24 long, thin tentacles. Four thick, frilled arms hang from the manubrium. Mild sting.
Up to 10cm. Has a deep bell with pink or mauve warts, 16 marginal lobes and eight marginal, hair-like tentacles. Manubrium bears four longer frilled arms with tiny pink spots. More serious sting.
*Lion's mane jellyfish
Large, usually 50cm but can reach two metres in diameter. Large, reddish brown, umbrella-shaped bell with mass of long, thin hair-like tentacles as well as four short, thick, frilled and folded arms. Very virulent sting, capable of causing cardiac arrest.
Not a true jellyfish, but a floating hydranth. Up to 10cm long and blue-purple in colour. Upright sail and chitinous float are diagnostic, with a mass of small tentacles surrounding the mouth on the underside. Found in swarms. Harmless to humans.
Not a true jellyfish, but a floating colony of hydrozoans. Oval-shaped, transparent float with crest. Blue-purple, with many hanging fishing polyps below that may be tens of metres long. Extremely dangerous. Rare in the UK but if found in numbers they should be reported
Ocean warming causes jellyfish to swarm northern waters
Global warming has long been blamed for the huge rise in the world's jellyfish population. But new research suggests that they, in turn, may be worsening the problem by producing more carbon than the oceans can cope with.
Research led by Rob Condon of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in the US focuses on the effect that the increasing numbers of jellyfish are having on marine bateria, which play an important role by recycling nutrients created by decaying organisms back into the food web. The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that while bacteria are capable of absorbing the constituent carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and other chemicals given off by most fish when they die, they cannot do the same with jellyfish. The invertebrates, populating the seas in ever-increasing numbers, break down into biomass with especially high levels of carbon, which the bacteria cannot absorb well. Instead of using it to grow, the bacteria breathe it out as carbon dioxide. This means more of the gas is released into the atmosphere.
In 2010, Smithsonian Magazine suggested the jellyfish might be on their way to dominating the biomass, or organisms in the oceans. The article pointed out that the creatures are reproducing in astonishing numbers and showing up where they had not been seen before.