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Cyanea capillata (Linnaeus, 1758)
Lion's Mane Jellyfish
Family: Cyaneidae


© Simon Donner     (Photo ID #5008)


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Distribution of Cyanea capillata in British Columbia in British Columbia

Species Information

The lion's mane jellyfish is a common species of jellyfish that is well known for its painful sting. It is an 8-lobed jelly that is relatively large in northern latitudes (up to 2.5 m) (smaller further south) with thin, silvery tentacles up to 30 m (100 ft.) in length. The tentacles are very sticky, in clusters of eight. Each cluster can contain 65-150 tentacles, arranged in a series of rows. Colourful arms extend from the centre of the bell, which are shorter than the tentacles that extend from the subumbrella. Colour varies with size, and large individuals can be bright red to dark purple, while smaller individuals may be lighter orange or tan coloured. Dead individuals found on beaches can be clear. This species does not form aggregations (Purcell 2003).



The large bell and tentacles of this species act as both a food source and protection for other marine species, including shrimp and fish. Populations show a predictable seasonal increase.


Lion's mane jellyfish are found near the surface, to 20 m depth. They are weak swimmers that depend on ocean currents for distance travelling. They are most often observed in late summer and autumn when they have grown and are brought close to shore by currents. Fall die off can litter beaches with these jellies.


Zooplankton, small fish, ctenophores and moon jellies. .


“This species is capable of both sexual reproduction in the medusa stage and asexual reproduction in the polyp stage.” (Wikipedia 2009).


Seabirds, larger fish, other jellyfish species and sea turtles.


This species lives for one year.


This is a pelagic (deep water) coldwater species most of the year, but is found in shallow bays near the end of their lifespan.


Global Range:

Found in the Arctic, north Atlantic and north Pacific Oceans, seldom south of 42 N.

BC Range:

This species is frequently encountered around Boundary Bay in the fall, when annual die-off occurs and they are found along the beaches.


“The taxonomy of Cyanea species is not fully agreed; some zoologists have suggested that all species within the genus should be treated as one. Two distinct taxa however occur together in at least the eastern North Atlantic, with the blue jellyfish (Cyanea lamarckii Péron & Lesueur, 1810) differing in blue (not red) colour and smaller size (10-20 cm diameter, rarely 35 cm). Populations in the western Pacific around Japan are sometimes distinguished as Cyanea nozakii Kisinouye, 1891, or as a race, Cyanea capillata nozakii.” (Wikipedia 2009)

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)

BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Range and Status Information Links

Species References

Purcell, J. E., 2003. Predation on zooplankton by large jelly- fish, Aurelia labiata, Cyanea capillata and Aequorea aequorea, in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Marine Ecology-Progress Series 246(), 137-152.

General References