Wildlife A-Z

Barrel jellyfish

In our area

Eight jellyfish species have been recorded throughout Dorset with frequent sightings of the compass, moon, blue and barrel jellyfish in the spring and summer.  On occasion, these have included swarms.   

The barrel jellyfish is one of the largest we see in Dorset.  Odd sightings of these have occurred over the last few decades but this changed in May 2014, when swarms appeared along the South Coast. Similar numbers have been reported throughout spring and summer 2015.  

Barrel Jellyfish, which grow up to an impressive 1 metre wide and weigh 25kg, can give a mild sting, even when dead.  Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) is advising members of the public not to touch any jellyfish they find and to send in photos of the sighting.  These are essential to aid identification particularly as jellyfish change colour, shape and size when stranded. 

Jellyfish swarms could entice more marine life 

The leatherback turtle and the oceanic sunfish have been known to visit Dorset.  Whilst confirmed sightings of the leatherback are uncommon, sunfish are often reported in the summer.  Both of these species are attracted to the South Coast in pursuit of their favourite food.  An increase in jellyfish numbers is likely to improve the chance of seeing these impressive megafauna and averaging at 2m in length, that would be quite a sighting.  Keep your eyes peeled! 

Health & safety 

Please remember to look but don't touch - jellyfish are capable of stinging even when stranded dead on the shore.  Remember to keep dogs away too.  Some species such as the Portuguese man o'war are known to cause a painful sting but are rarely deadly.  

If you have been stung by a jellyfish, seek medical advice!  The NHS provide full details on the prevention, symptoms and treatment of a jellyfish sting HERE. 

Identify your jellyfish sighting 

See Dorset's jellyfish on this downloadable guide.

Report your sighting 

Tweet us your sightings and photos using the hashtag #dorsetjellyfish or contact us on Facebook.  You can also email us at kimmeridge@dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk

Barrel Jellyfish