Giant Barrel jellyfish washed up on Gwynedd beach leaves walkers 'terrified'

The creature is believed to be a large Barrel jellyfish. Credit: Steve Bowers

A giant jellyfish that was found washed up on a North Wales beach has left walkers 'terrified'.

Startled walkers came across the stranded creature on the Dyfi estuary foreshore at Aberdyfi, Gwynedd.

Local resident Steve Bowers shared a photo of the jellyfish on social media, prompting a mix of dread and fascination.

“I’m cancelling!” wrote one visitor planning a trip from England.

Three similar but smaller jellyfish were also found nearby. Another woman said: “Omg! Now that’s put me off ever going back in the water here again!”

While another commented: “Wow! That’s awesome! Certainly getting bigger here and in Tywyn.”

Mr Bowers, who works on the Talyllyn Heritage Steam Railway, estimates the creature’s dome-shaped bell was around 2ft (60cm) across.

Despite social media speculation that it was a Lion’s Mane jellyfish - the world’s second-longest animal - this is thought unlikely.

Mr Bowers identified the creature as a large Barrel jellyfish.

“It was just a larger version of the smaller, “standard’ grey ones around it,” he said. “Its redness was quite unusual, I haven’t seen one like that at all before.

“I regularly wander along the beach and this was easily the largest I’ve come across. It certainly took me by surprise!”

Barrel jellyfish swarm in warmer coastal waters in late spring to feed on plankton. They often wash up on beaches in May or June after underestimating tides and wave strengths.

Given the size of the Aberdyfi giant, it left some residents worried. “Wow, that looks like it could kill someone if they got stung by it,” said a woman.

However, barrel jellyfish stings are not normally harmful to humans. They can sting while dead but the sensation is usually mild – sometimes the stings are itchy and some people don’t feel them at all.

Barrel jellyfish are common in the Irish Sea. According to the North Wales Wildlife Trust, they typically grow up to 40cm in diameter, about the size of dustbin lids. Hence their common name – dustbin-lid jellyfish.

In exceptional cases, in deep waters, they can reach 150cm, making them the largest jellyfish in British waters. But they do have a fearsome predator – Barrel jellyfish are the favourite food of leatherback turtles, the world’s largest sea turtle.

Aberdyfi’s giant was washed up more or less intact. It was assumed to have been swept back out on the next high tide.