Adam and Eve Dickinson’s family were on Pakiri Beach in New Zealand when they saw something which stopped them in their tracks. A strange, colorful blob lay by the sea. And as they approached it, the creature started to move.
Serendipitously named parents Adam and Eve are from New Zealand’s Stanmore Bay. They live together with their two children Sofia and Lucas. The family love to visit the beach and discover new things.
In fact, that desire for discovery is partly what led the Dickinson family to visit Auckland’s Pakiri Beach. The area is actually named after Te Kiri, a native Māori chief of the Ngāti Wai tribe. The Auckland Regional Council is also turning two miles of the nearly nine-mile beach into a regional park.
Meanwhile, the Dickinson family were in for a massive shock during a September 2018 visit to the beach. They came across a strange and unfamiliar lifeform in the sand. And whatever it was, it captivated them.
In an interview with Fox News, Adam said that he immediately became concerned for his children’s safety. “My initial thought was ‘don’t let my kids touch it’ as they went running up to have a look,” he recounted. The family carefully stood around it in wonder instead.
Adam was completely taken aback by what he saw. He described his discovery to Yahoo7 as “pretty incredible and really hard to describe.” He added that he had “definitely not” seen anything like it before.
“My boy kept saying it looked like a volcano,” Eve told Yahoo7. The family then got a further surprise when they noticed something else. The bizarre mass of colorful jelly was alive. It moved slowly as the Dickinsons watched in awe. “It almost looked like a load of muscles contracting,” Adam added.
Adam continued, “’It’s alive,’ my boy kept saying; I just told the kids not to touch it.” Instead, they then chose to do the opposite. “We then grabbed a stick and poked it to see if it would move again,” Eve told Yahoo7.
“The kids then started blowing on it. ‘It can feel us mummy,’ [Lucas] said as it moved again,” Eve told Yahoo7. The Dickinsons spent a long time just observing the creature. But just what was this strange mass of jelly?
The Dickinsons later learned the creature’s identity. It was a lion’s mane jellyfish, the biggest of its kind known in the world. It can grow to the size of a blue whale, taking into account the length of its tentacles. However, the main body – or “bell” – has a diameter of around seven feet wide.
The lion’s mane jellyfish’s name is inspired by the tentacles that dangle underneath its main body. Its mouth is found beneath the bell, which is covered by tentacles divided into eight groups of up to 150 tentacles each.
But its tentacles are more than just decoration. They also pack a nasty punch to potential prey. Lion’s manes eat small sea creatures such as crustaceans and smaller jellyfish. And its tentacles are loaded with poison-carrying nematocysts in order to incapacitate its prey.
Despite the danger the voracious lion’s manes represent to other sea life, they aren’t considered a threat to humans. Discounting allergic reactions, experts believe unwitting victims will survive a sting from one of these beasts.
Meanwhile, the sight of a lion’s mane jellyfish certainly came as a surprise for the Dickinson family. They had never seen a creature like this before. “It was pretty amazing to see,” Eve said in her interview with Yahoo7.
Nor was the lion’s mane the only jellyfish to wash up on the shore that day. The Dickinsons estimated anywhere from 50 to 100 jellyfish on the beach. None of them resembled their initial discovery, though. “This one was definitely different,” Eve told Yahoo7.
“We have never seen anything like it,” she continued. “It was pretty cool. 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,” Eve recalled.
Diana Macpherson, from New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, confirmed the jellyfish’s identity. She added that they’re actually pretty common when their prey is plentiful in spring and summer months. Regardless, the lion’s mane was an interesting find.
It’s certainly reaffirmed just why the Dickinson family enjoy a trip to the seaside. “We go to the beach to see cool things like that,” Adam told Newshub in November 2018. However, if you see something similar washed up on the sand, don’t touch it unless you have to.
The reason for this is that a jellyfish can sting even after its main body dies. It’s also important to note that despite rumors, urine does not cure a jellyfish sting. Furthermore, in some instances it can cause even more pain.
Meanwhile, although lion’s mane jellyfish don’t usually inflict fatal stings, other species can be lethal. So, if you do get stung and experience severe reactions, the best thing you can do is seek immediate medical attention.