Lion's Mane Jellyfish: find out what this animal is like, its physical characteristics, character, behavior, etc. The edge of the cnidarians corresponds to a diversified group...

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The edge of the cnidarians corresponds to a diversified group of aquatic animals within which we find those commonly called jellyfish, inhabitants of marine ecosystems. Jellyfish are characterized by their bell-shaped, jelly-like bodies and usually by the presence of stinging tentacles which they use for defense and hunting.

In this PlanetAnimal dossier, we present to you a very special cnidarian, the lion's mane jellyfish, whose scientific name is Cyanea capillata. We invite you to read on to learn more about this iconic marine animal.


  • America
  • Europe
  • Canada
  • United States
  • Ireland
  • Norway
  • United Kingdom

Characteristics of Lion's Mane Jellyfish

The lion's mane jellyfish is considered the largest jellyfish in the world, although in terms of size there may be many individual differences and, in addition, it has been determined that the dimensions increase as these animals inhabit further north. The diameter of their bell varies from around 30 cm to 2 meters and they develop tentacles that allow them to reach lengths of over 30 meters.

They tend to have a large number of sticky tentacles that are clustered in each of the bell lobes. Its common name is due to the similarity in appearance of the tentacles with the mane of a lion.The coloring of the youngest individuals is beige-orange, but as they age, it can become reddish. The color of the bell varies between pink, gold or brownish purple.

As is common in these species, the lion's mane jellyfish's body is over 90% water and is radially symmetrical. The bell is characterized by its spherical shape, wavy edges and consists of eight lobes with arms much shorter than the tentacles. Some of these lobes contain the animal's sense organs, such as balance, smell or light receptors. The tentacles and upper surface of the body contain nematocysts which the animal uses to inject a stinging toxin.

Lion's Mane Jellyfish Habitat

The lion's mane jellyfish lives mainly in cold marine waters. Thus, it is distributed throughout the Arctic Ocean and the northern regions of the Atlantic and Pacific.Although it may be a little further south of the regions mentioned, it is a species that generally does not tolerate warm waters, so it is not common to find it further south.

It is usual for it to grow in the Atlantic area of Canada and the United States, in Norway, in the B altic Sea and in the English Channel, as well as in the eastern part of Great Britain and, in general , in northern waters. Although the presence of jellyfish similar in appearance to lion's mane has been reported in Oceania, it remains to be confirmed whether or not they are the same species.

Habits of the lion's mane jellyfish

The lion's mane jellyfish is used to being in constant motion and can travel long distances thanks to an ability it has, consisting of using ocean currents to swim. It is only found in the seabed for the polyp phase. Subsequently, most of its life is spent in open water near the surface and, occasionally, in areas close to the coast.It usually has solitary habits, but eventually it can group with other individuals and swim together. In the adult stage, it does not dive more than 20 meters deep. As it nears the end of its life, it tends to move around and stay in shallow places.

The lion's mane jellyfish is not a human-seeking animal and its toxin, while pungent and itchy, is not lethal. However, there are reports of accidents which may pose a risk to sensitive individuals.

Lion's Mane Jellyfish Feeding

The lion's mane jellyfish is a hunting animal that actively seeks its prey. This cnidarian bases its diet mainly on fish, which it captures with its tentacles and stuns by inoculating a toxic substance through the nematocysts. They may also consume other smaller jellyfish, zooplankton and ctenophores or comb jellyfish.

Lion's Mane Jellyfish Reproduction

Like many other jellyfish, lion's mane has two types of reproduction, one sexual and the other asexual. In sexual reproduction, differentiated individuals are distinguished. Both male and female release their sex cells outside, where they are fertilized. Later, the eggs are protected in the oral tentacles until the planula larvae form, which will attach to the marine substrate to develop as a polyp.

The asexual phase of jellyfish occurs as soon as the polyp forms, which splits horizontally, a process known as strobilation. After the formation of several disks, the upper detaches, giving rise to the form called ephyra, which later becomes the adult jellyfish. Hence, lion’s mane jellyfish goes through four phases, which are larvae, polyp, ephyra, and jellyfish.

Young individuals, still small in size, are those at risk of being eaten by their natural predators, such as turtles, fish and seabirds. Once they grow up, they can hardly be attacked by other species, thanks to the good defense that their large size gives them and the toxin they produce.

Learn more about jellyfish reproduction in this article.

Conservation status of the lion's mane jellyfish

There are no reports that the lion's mane jellyfish population status is of concern at this time. However, due to temperature variations caused by climate change, it is not illogical to think that in the future, this animal could be affected by these changes.

To learn more about the effects of climate change on animals, we recommend that you read our article Animals most affected by climate change.

Photos of Lion's Mane Jellyfish

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