Latest marine sightings - September 16

Compass Jellyfish

During the summer months and into September there were lots of Compass Jellyfish to be found both out at sea, in the shallows and washed up on beaches.

These medium-sized jellyfish get their name from the brown v-shaped markings on their bell giving them the appearance of a compass. They have long, trailing tentacles that can deliver a potent sting on contact.

Compass jellyfish are delicate and easily damaged once in shallow water when the tentacles and bell come into contact with the seabed. However they are still able to sting, even when washed ashore, so it is always best not to touch them.

Other jellyfish sightings in not such large numbers include Barrel Jellyfish, Blue jellyfish, Crystal jellyfish and the rare Lion’s mane jellyfish which is more common further north in the UK.

Find out more about jellyfish in Dorset

Compass jellyfish © Julie Hatcher

Compass Jellyfish © Julie Hatcher

Crystal jellyfish © Julie Hatcher

Crystal Jellyfish © Julie Hatcher

Ocean Sunfish

When there are lots of jellyfish around we often ask people to look out for some of their predators that might accompany them. This year we have been rewarded with quite a few sightings of Ocean Sunfish, a bizarre-looking animal that sometimes visits our shores during the summer months. These are bizarre-looking fish that may be seen from boats when they come to the surface. They lie on their side as they bask in the sun, looking like a round dustbin lid or millstone (the scientific name, Mola mola, means millstone). This basking is possibly a method of warming up their bodies after a deep dive or may be to attract seabirds to clean them by pecking off parasites.

Ocean Sunfish © Chris Fryatt

Ocean Sunfish © Chris Fryatt

Dead Baleen Whale

In early September a large, dead whale was reported floating in the sea off the Isle of Portland. Photographs showed it to be a rorqual whale, a type of whale that has baleen plates instead of teeth and feeds by filtering tiny animals from the water. They possess very distinctive throat pleats that allow their throat to expand when they take in huge gulps of water in order to sieve their food from it.

Unfortunately, after several days at sea, the whale posed a safety hazard for shipping and was destroyed. Read about it here

Minke Whale © Julie Hatcher

Minke Whale © Julie Hatcher


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