Did You Know | Nature

Parents Share Photos Of Pulsing, Purple Sea Creature They Stumbled Across At The Beach

Adam Dickinson

Anyone who watched the Blue Planet documentaries will tell your our oceans are teeming with life.

But not every fish in the sea is camera-ready.

A sea creature that washed up on a New Zealand shore this week gave one family quite a shock - and they were just lucky not to touch it.

"My initial thought was don't let my kids touch it."

Adam Dickinson and his wife took their two young children for a stroll along Pakiri Beach, outside of Auckland, on Monday.

While the family have been walking the beach for years, they never came across anything as strange as they did earlier this week.

Dickinson's son compared the huge purple blob they stumbled across to a "volcano," while Dickinson only said it was "pretty incredible and hard to describe."

"It almost looked like a load of muscles contracting," he remembered for Fox News. "My initial thought was don't let my kids touch it as they went running up to have a look."

Dickinson's children kids for photos alongside the huge sea creature, and the pictures eventually helped to identify it.

The animal turned out to be a lion's mane jellyfish, also named a giant jellyfish because of its enormous size. In the ocean, they can grow to be seven feet wide and more than 190 feet long - from top to tentacle tip.

Giant jellyfish
A model of a giant jellyfish (in red) at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.Tim Evanson - Wikimedia

While that's comparable to a blue whale, these jellies are not giant predators. They mainly feed on microscopic plant life, and any small fish that get tangled in their massive tentacles.

What we're seeing in the Dickinson family's photos is the jelly's underside, with its mouth and bundles of tentacles in sections.

"It was pretty amazing to see," Dickinson said.

"Also, the other jellyfish we found on the beach, we turned them upside down to see if it would look similar to this one and none of them did. This one was definitely different. We have never seen anything like it. It was pretty cool."

While their sting is not deadly, a lion's mane's tentacles can leaves welts on a person's skin, so it's a good thing the Dickinson children didn't touch it.

"They pack a hell of a punch, I have been told," said Dickinson.

Catch Of The Day

New Zealand's coast seems to be home to quite a few sea monsters, and another massive specimen washed up on the beach last month.

Three brothers out diving for fish outside the city of Wellington stumbled across the body of a giant squid.

"My brother said 'what's that over there?' and pointed it out," Daniel Aplin told a local radio station.

"It was right next to the track so we pulled over and we were like: 'It's a big squid.'"

While the Aplin brothers say they're "big dudes," you can still tell the enormous size of the squid from their photos.

They guessed that the specimen was 14 feet long, but say they measured it after their dive, when the body had already begun shrinking.

It's not unusual for male giant squid to grow to be more than 30 feet long, in their natural habitats deep underwater.

Colossal squid, which are considered even larger than giants because of their massive heads, have eyeballs 10 inches wide and enormous, razor sharp beaks used to hunt whales.

While we learn a lot when these ocean monsters wash up on shore, it's safe to say we'd like them to stay in the ocean for our safety.

[H/T: Fox News, Yahoo 7, Newshub]

Did you know jellyfish and squid could grow to be so big?

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories. CONTACT: zachary@shared.com