As mesmerizing and peaceful as the ocean is to look at, delving beneath its waters is a different story. Luckily for the faint of heart, divers like Lizzie Daly are bent on capturing what life in the ocean looks like. The biologist dared to swim alongside a creature that was larger than she is, known as the barrel jellyfish. This massive jellyfish has bloomed off the coast of the UK in high numbers in recent years, but they are relatively harmless to humans. Read on to see Lizzie’s incredible photos with the jellyfish and to learn more about these magnificent creatures.
Meet The Brave Biologist
Lizzie Daly may look like your ordinary Instagram influencer out on a hike, but her diving expeditions are nothing short of extraordinary. She’s been fascinated by marine life since she was a little girl.
Her appreciation for the natural world led her to become not only a biologist, but also a broadcaster, filmmaker, and conservationist. Though she is a native of Wales, she has traveled all over the world conducting research and creating films that bring awareness to wildlife.
She’s Had An Action-Packed Career
As you can see by this photograph of Lizzie filming a shark underwater, her career has been anything but boring. In addition to being a presenter for such stations as National Geographic and Animal Planet, she has her own YouTube channel.
She is passionate about educating the public with her own wildlife talks and films that show the beauty of nature. Given her experience and interest, it’s no surprise that her ears perked up when she heard about massive jellyfish off the coast of the Cornwall, UK.
Her Videos Have Gone Viral
Lizzie has quite a reputation for bringing attention to wildlife, so it’s no surprise that her encounter with a massive jellyfish went viral. Not only can her science colleagues appreciate her efforts, but so can her many followers.
Lizzie obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Animal Behavior, so it’s no wonder she’s able to interact with such elusive creatures like a true professional. She is currently working on her Ph.D. in elephant to human conflict, so it’s safe to say she loves giant animals.
The Mission Of A Lifetime
Reports started coming in that thousands of “monster” jellyfish were invading the UK’s coasts. While many would feel intimidated and keep away from the ocean after such news, Lizzie dove right in, literally.
Here she is pictured before the barrel jellyfish. Though they can wash up on the shore, it’s rare for a diver to encounter one at such a close proximity. Needless to say, Lizzie was ecstatic to have had the dive of a lifetime.
Not Wasting A Single Moment
Taking photos beneath the water’s surface isn’t the only thing Lizzie is interested in. Whether it’s fish swimming near the water’s surface, dolphins leaping above the water, or whales spouting water at a distance, Lizzie has her camera out and is ready to catch it all.
When it came to capturing the barrel jellyfish underwater, Lizzie decided that a little help was warranted. She brought along cinematographer Dan Abbott so that he could capture the moment while Lizzie focused on finding the jellyfish.
The Diving Spot Was A Secret
Though Dan began rolling while Lizzie strapped on her gear, the duo kept their whereabouts relatively ambiguous. It turns out, the spot they were scoping out was a secret location that someone had told them about.
The location was somewhere along the coast of Cornwall and was rumored to have plenty of jellyfish. Some jellyfish are much more dangerous than others, so Lizzie’s expertise was vital. Once she caught sight of a jellyfish, she would know what kind of risks there might be.
Their Mission Was In Support Of A Cause
It may seem a little nutty that Lizzie and Dan were diving blind into a region said to be loaded with questionable jellyfish. However, their efforts stemmed from more than just curiosity. The video they set out to capture would go on to become a part of their Wild Ocean Week campaign.
They created the series to help raise money for the Marine Conservation Society in the UK. Knowing that their cause was bigger than themselves may have helped both Dan and Lizzie muster up the courage to dive in.
The Excitement Was Building
Though the secret location was practically a ghost town, there were stairs along a stone wall that enabled Lizzie to ease herself into the mysterious waters. While it’s possible that she may have felt a little nervous, she was probably more excited than anything.
Jellyfish are incredible creatures once you get to know a little about them. For instance, they don’t have brains, but rather are controlled by their nerves. They can also clone themselves!
Delving Below The Waters
As Lizzie delved below the water’s surface, Dan kept a close eye on her with his underwater camera to ensure that he didn’t miss a thing. They expected to capture a few images of Lizzie with the jellyfish, but couldn’t have imagined how incredible their journey would turn out.
At first, the dive seemed a bit dull. They swam over some plants but didn’t see any living creatures in sight. But as any seasoned scientist knows, sometimes patience is key.
Her First Encounter With A Jellyfish
The first jellyfish they spotted had the sort of aesthetic you might expect. It wasn’t very big and had a dome-like top with wavy tentacles. The brown parts of its body help made it a standout in the blue water.
There are typically two stages in the jellyfish life cycle: the polyp stage and the medusa stage. One type of jellyfish is nicknamed the “immortal” jellyfish since it has the ability to revert back to the polyp stage.
Meet The Jellyfish That Stole The Show
As Lizzie carried on swimming, something caught her eye that became the game-changer of the dive. The jellyfish you see here swimming along a reef is much larger than it immediately looks.
This image was taken from behind the jellyfish, which was positioned horizontally at the time. What we’re looking at are the tentacles, which are clearly much thicker than that of the jellyfish we saw in the previous picture. Lizzie knew that this was the moment she’d been hoping for.
Approaching The Jellyfish
Lizzie most likely could tell from a glance that it was a barrel jellyfish she had spotted. Knowing how rare this moment was, she wasn’t shy about swimming toward it to get a good shot with the creature.
One of the most amazing things about seeing this creature off the coast of the UK is that it is the largest jellyfish in the area. On top of that, it is relatively harmless to humans!
A Gentle Giant
This image gives a clearer scope of how long the jellyfish is compared to Lizzie. Though the biologist is petite, the jellyfish is still massive compared to those you’re probably used to seeing.
There are more than 2,000 kinds of jellyfish, and 70% of them can harm humans. One massive jellyfish is nicknamed the “pink meanie” for its aggressive sting. Fortunately, it was the barrel jellyfish that Lizzie came upon, and their sting is not typically harmful to humans.
Swimming Alongside The Massive Jellyfish
As the jellyfish began to swim on its side, Lizzie joined it so that they were swimming parallel to each other. It looks as though the tentacles could nearly touch Lizzie if either of them moved to much to one side.
While the sting wouldn’t likely be very detrimental to the diver, she is still brave for running the risk just to capture the graceful beauty of this massive jellyfish. Fun fact: some jellyfish don’t even have tentacles!
The Closest She Got To The Massive Creature
If the previous photograph wasn’t making you a little nervous, then this one likely might. Even if the jellyfish had no sting at all, it could play with your mind to be that close to a large creature you’re not used to seeing.
Fear aside, the jellyfish is absolutely gorgeous from this view. Its mushroom-shaped bell and wavy tentacles look soft enough to touch. The violet fringe around the bell is the part of the creature that contains its sense organs.
Up Close To The Jellyfish
Lizzie wasn’t the only one getting close to the jellyfish; let’s not forget that Dan was on the other side of the camera when it captured this up-close view of the graceful creature. This image shows the five-foot-long jellyfish up close, with Lizzie barely visible through its tentacles.
Jellyfish are the opposite of endangered since their numbers are actually on the rise. Their plentiful numbers may be part of the reason a group of Japanese students came up with a salted caramel recipe that includes powdered jellyfish!
Nothing Compared To Seeing This Jellyfish
As we saw in an earlier photograph, Lizzie had swum with sharks before. As a marine biologist, she’s encountered plenty of underwater creatures. However, she said in an interview that swimming with the massive jellyfish was the cherry on top.
Nothing could compare to Lizzie’s experience with the barrel jellyfish. Just imagine looking up and seeing something that looks like a mushroom cloud pass overhead. It’s no wonder that stories of sea monsters were so popular throughout history!
Lizzie and Dan were jumping for joy when they resurfaced. You can tell by Lizzie’s expression that she was shocked at what they had discovered. For someone who does this kind of work all the time, it takes a very special experience to elicit that kind of excitement.
Though the barrel jellyfish is said to be common off the southern and western coasts of Britain in summer months, getting that close to one is a magnificent accomplishment.
Eager To Share With Others
Lizzie was all smiles as she and Dan walked back to their cars. Her passion is evident not only in the joy she exudes doing her work, but also in how she uses her skillset to make a difference.
She was the first-ever female patron of ORCA and is an ambassador for the Marine Conservation Society, the Jane Goodall Institute UK, and the Norwich Science Festival. That’s what we call commitment and drive!
What Will She Encounter Next?
Now that she’s had one successful dive with a barrel jellyfish, we’re confident she’ll jump at the next opportunity to repeat the experience.
And though they are the largest jellyfish in the UK, they are tiny in comparison to the lion’s mane jellyfish, which is the largest species in the world at 120 feet long! Perhaps it will be one of these massive creatures that Lizzie chooses to explore next!