Divers 'humbled' by Cornwall jellyfish encounter

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Jellyfish and scuba diverImage source, Dan Abbott
Image caption,
Barrel jellyfish are the largest jellyfish that appear in UK waters

Two divers who swam alongside an enormous jellyfish off the Cornwall coast have said the encounter was a "humbling" experience.

Dan Abbott and Lizzie Daly got up close and personal with the barrel jellyfish during a week-long project documenting marine encounters.

They were originally supposed to be filming blue sharks, but had to revert to "plan b" when inclement weather meant that trip was cancelled.

The image of the jellyfish has gone viral after it was shared on social media.

Mr Abbott, from Colchester in Essex, said that had led to "the craziest three days of my life" but the "feeling of being with it underwater" was the best part of the experience.

Image source, Dan Abbott
Image caption,
Neither diver had ever seen a jellyfish close to this size before

The divers were taking part in wildlife biologist Lizzie Daly's fundraising project Wild Ocean Week.

They had travelled around the UK for a week filming a series of marine experiences and documenting them on social media to raise money for the Marine Conservation Society.

Mr Abbott said: "We weren't looking for [the jellyfish] - we didn't know it was going to be there."

Image source, Dan Abbott
Image caption,
The jellyfish come to UK waters in the early summer to feed on plentiful plankton

Ms Daly, who is from Wales and a fellow at Swansea University, said she "had her face in some kelp" when she turned round and noticed the huge gelatinous creature.

"I went to have a closer look, only to be surprised by how enormous it was," she added.

Neither of the pair had seen a jellyfish that was close to the same size before and Ms Daly described the experience of diving with the "gentle giant" as "humbling".

Image source, Dan Abbott
Image caption,
Some of the jellyfish can weigh up to 35kg and their bell can be almost one metre in diameter

Mr Abbot said it was "a lot easier" to capture images of such a sedate animal drifting along between 7m to 10m under the water, very shallow depths by scuba diving standards.

"You can put yourself in a position where you know you're not going to be in its way," he said.

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Image source, Toby Ray
Image caption,
Swimmers encountering another large barrel jellyfish

Barrel jellyfish:

  • The bell of a large barrel jellyfish can be up to 90cm in diameter and they can weigh as much as 35kg
  • Because of their size they are also known as "dustbin-lid jellyfish"
  • They are not considered dangerous, with only a mild sting
  • Barrel jellyfish are typically seen near the southern and western coasts between May and October
  • They feed by using their sting to stun small organisms like plankton in the water and then ingest them