I sincerely wondered if the otherworldly and beautiful creature in the photo above was real or computer-generated, perhaps for a sci-fi TV show. It is, however, very much of this world. This is the lion’s mane jellyfish, the longest jellyfish in the world.
I’ll admit that I didn’t know much about jellyfish when I set out to learn more about the majestic lion’s mane. So I decided to talk to jellyfish expert Allen Collins, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Systematics Laboratory, about what makes the lion’s mane tick. One of the first things I asked Collins was whether it was normal to be captivated at the sight of the lion’s mane like I was, to which he answered a cheerful yes.
“Jellyfish displays are incredibly popular in aquaria,” Collins said in an email. “I liken the experience to what it feels like to stare at a fire. Jellyfish are often in constant flowing motion. They are sort of mesmerizing to watch.”