College instructor spots ‘unusual jelly’ on Vancouver Island beach

Creatures found drifting around in the shallows, far away from their element

It’s not often Laura Verhegge gets stumped by a mysterious sea creature.

Yet on a beach outside of Victoria over the weekend, the biology and marine sciences instructor at Pearson College encountered some unusual jellies – around four of them – that had her scratching her head.

Verhegge was taking a stroll through the waters of Weir’s Beach in Metchosin, by the shoreline she’d gotten to know over 18 years, when she made her vexing find. She decided to post the pictures to Twitter for help.

ALSO READ: 10-foot-long shark washes ashore in North Saanich

The images show the jellyfish’s spherical shape and some internal structures, minus the tentacles. “Gorgeous. Looks like a perfect paperweight (if made in glass),” one person replied.

Louise Page, an associate professor who teaches invertebrate biology at the University of Victoria, thinks she may have the answer. The tip off may be the bits of orange seen inside the creature. “My best guess is that it’s a baby lion’s mane jellyfish,” she said.

Also referred to as Cyanea capillata, the creatures can get up to a meter wide across the bell and have tentacles that stretch out eight meters. It would take these babies just a year or two to reach that size, she said.

ALSO READ: 70 babies found inside North Saanich Shark

“People are probably familiar with seeing much larger specimens washed up on the beach,” Page added. The jellyfish population is increasing, particularly the lion’s mane, leading to a lot more of them being spotted washing up over the last few years, she said.

While the jellyfish look different from a lion’s mane to her, Page’s guess seems to make sense, Verhegge said.

“We see them around in the fall. I mean, it’s possible – it is possible. I would trust her.”

ALSO READ: Parksville’s mystery cowboy revealed

The creatures were swimming – or rather, drifting around – in the shallows when Verhegge found them, far and away from their element. “It’s not great for jellies to be in the swash zone; they’re happier out in the open ocean,” she noted.

Yet Weir’s Beach is a place where all kinds of “bizarre” things wash up, she added. The juveniles likely had been washed in by the current.“I think it was kind of bad luck for the individuals. Yeah, because they won’t survive.”

Unfortunately, she said the creatures would likely dry out during low tide.

swikar.oli@goldstreamgazette.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Assault in Hope leads to firearms seizure, recovered goods and arrest

Victim recovering after being beaten and dragged along ground at Lake of the Woods

Agassiz Fall Fair kicks off Saturday events with parade, Corn King

Martin Dinn is this year’s Corn King for the community

Michael Nenn running with NDP in Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon

The Mission resident will be seeking a seat in parliament in the federal election this October

UPDATE: Missing man has been located

Friends were concerned for well-being of 44-year-old Jean Pierre Baril

VIDEO: Agassiz Fall Fair celebrates 115 years of fair fun

From 4H shows to pie eating contests, the annual fair brought its best to the community this year

Pair killed in Bamfield bus crash were 18-year-old UVic students

The victims were a young woman from Manitoba and and a young man from the U.S.

Safety concerns resurface after fatal bus crash on Vancouver Island

Huu-ay-aht First Nations wants a safe route between Bamfield and Port Alberni

National weather forecasters predict average fall, cold winter

The Weather Network says precipitation will about average in most parts of Canada

Two dead, two in critical condition in highway crash near Campbell River

Highway 19 reopened Sunday night after it was closed in both directions

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Federal party leaders address gun violence after weekend shooting near Toronto

One teen was killed and five people injured in the shooting

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

Most Read