Giant 20kg jellyfish filmed off the coast of Cornwall

Video: Marine expert Matt Slater films his close encounter with a 20kg barrel jellyfish near St Mawes in Cornwall

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The Independent Online

A conservationist has captured the amazing moment he came face-to-face with a huge barrel jellyfish along Cornwall's south coast.

The presence of such a large jellyfish in the waters of Cornwall may come as a surprise to most but not to marine expert Matt Slater, who told the BBC earlier this year that a plethora of jellyfish with domes "the size of dustbin lids" had been spotted along Cornwall's coast.

Barrel jellyfish, which are usually 90cm-wide with tentacles that can stretch to 6 feet, are normally spotted further out to sea but the mild winter is presumed to have led to more plankton being available to eat closer to shore.

While the large creature in the video is evidently menacing, experts state the barrel jellyfish's stings cause no harm to humans but that it is best not to handle them either.

Slater, a marine awareness officer at the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, told ITV: "These creatures are incredibly beautiful when you get a close look at them.

"The tentacles really look like soft coral, and round the edge of the jellyfish’s umbrella like bell there is a deep blue line punctuated every twenty centimetres or so with a tiny dot, a sensory statocyst."

Slater added that the influx in jellyfish in Cornwall represented the largest number of jellyfish in the region's waters since 2002.

On Cornwall's northern coast, there has been a large number of sightings of blue jellyfish, which give a mild sting.

The Cornwall Wildlife Trust has urged people to get in touch and record sightings of jellyfish.