THEY are one of the most mysterious creatures of the deep.
But now Southampton University has created the world’s first global database of jellyfish records to shed light on some of their secrets.
It comes after huge jellyfish have been found washed up on south coast beaches – with experts warning more could follow.
Earlier this year barrel jellyfish, which can grow up to 3ft 2ins in diameter, were found on beaches in Portland, Dorset and it is understood long spells of warm weather are attracting them to our waters.
The university has led an international study to help determine what the future trends of jellyfish are and the impact their population in parts of the ocean is having on the eco-system.
Research was initially hampered by a lack of information on where jellyfish are and what their populations are in the world’s oceans.
To address this knowledge gap, scientists have created the Jellyfish Database Initiative, or JeDI, to map jellyfish biomass in the upper 200m of the world’s oceans and explore the environmental causes behind their locations.
Marine biologist from the University of Southampton, Dr Cathy Lucas, said: “The successful development of this first global-scale database of jellyfish records by the Global Jellyfish Group was due, in large part, to the incredible generosity of members in the international jellyfish research and wider scientific communities.”
Already using this tool, it has shown that jellyfish numbers are at their highest in the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. The JeDI holds more than 476,000 data items on jellyfish and it has been designed as an open-access database for all researchers, media and public to use. It can be found at http://jedi.nceas.ucsb.edu.