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

Minnesota standout latest signing for Okanagan BCHL squad

Liam Malmquist of Minnesota coming to Vees for 2019/2020 season

Early-morning fire destroys Okanagan packing house

Cause of fire that destroyed an Oliver packing house remains under investigation.

Trail played role during fur trade era

Fur Brigade Trail in Okanagan has long history

Brothers acquired land at entrance to Garnet Valley

Name of Summerland valley and lake does not match spelling of family name.

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Thunderstorm possible for South Okanagan

The rest of the region will enjoy a sunny day.

REPLAY: The best videos from across B.C. this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week in the province

Kamloops RCMP investigate violent home invasion

Police believe the incident was targeted

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

The Chuckegg Creek fire is raging out of control about three kilometres southwest of the town

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Okanagan group offers suggestions on overdose prevention site

Downtown Vernon Association agrees proposed facility should be near Vernon Jubilee Hospital

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Most Read