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Giant jellyfish off Camp Bay

Divers from the Gibraltar Sub Aqua Club encountered a giant jellyfish in Camp Bay on Boxing Day.

GSAC Diving Officer, Nick Balban, with club members Martin Candeas and Robert Sheriff and visiting underwater photographer Steve Warren, from the UK, discovered the jellyfish in the corner of the beach by the lifeguard station, a popular entry and exit point for local divers and swimmers.

The bell was estimated at half a metre wide and the tentacles were thought to exceed five metres in length.

Local fisherman and experienced scuba diver Nick Balban said: “Although I have seen jellyfish with larger bells locally, I have never seen one with such long tentacles.”

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Mr Balban suggested it may have been a lion’s mane jellyfish, known for delivering a painful, though not life threatening, sting.

“I can only assume it has been carried through the Strait from somewhere in the Atlantic and may have ended up here by accident, give it does not seem to be an endemic species.”

It is the largest known jellyfish and featured in a Sherlock Holmes mystery, ‘The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane’.

Known to reach a diameter of over 2 metres with tentacles that can grow to 30 metres, the Camp Bay specimen, if it was a lion’s mane is a relatively small one.

Steve Warren, who spent many years diving on the Rock and is a former GSAC Training Officer, said: “It did look similar to a lion’s mane jellyfish I’ve seen in Scottish waters. It was a beautiful sight, but I was wary photographing it. Underwater you must be very close to what you are shooting and my fisheye lens makes subjects look three times further away than they really are. There were a lot of stray tentacles in the water and my hands and face were unprotected. However, Nick kept me clear of it and I did not get stung.”

Previously Mr Warren had photographed the jellyfish infestation for British scuba magazine ‘Diver’, and Mr Balban had worked together to film dolphins, pilot whales and orca in the Straits.

Photographs by Steve Warren