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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Finding freedom in expression through painting

Vanderhoof painter talks about her love for painting and the difficult questions artists are faced with.

District and Airport development society in disagreement over new apron

User group says there are safety hazards, and the district of Vanderhoof says otherwise.

Vanderhoof will have its own cannabis store Tuesday

This is the 18th government-run store to open in the province.

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

District of Vanderhoof upgrading council chambers

No information has been provided about the specifics of the project.

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Most Read