A HOLIDAYMAKER had a shock when he stumbled across a giant jellyfish on a beach in Lyme Regis.

Edward Baker, who came to Lyme Regis to visit the Fossil Festival, found the washed up barrel jellyfish on the beach at Church Cliff on May 5.

The discovery follows another four barrel jellyfish found washed-up at Church Cliff by Lyme Regis resident Sharon Ward the same day.

There have also been numerous barrel jellyfish sightings in Weymouth and Portland throughout the last two weeks – and more residents could make similar discoveries thanks to warmer weather, experts have warned.

Mr Baker, who works at the Natural History Museum in London, said: “We were out on the beach with a group of biologists, palaeontologists and science educators so we all found it really quite interesting.

“The jellyfish was found on the beach under Church Cliff in Lyme Regis. It was huge and I just knew I had to get a picture of it.”

The Dorset Wildlife Trust has identified the jellyfish as a barrel jellyfish, which can grow up to one metre wide.

Trust communications officer Sally Welbourn told the Lyme Regis News: “This is an unusual sighting in Dorset for so early in the year.

“We’re putting the increased sightings of jellyfish down to warm sea temperatures which have increased the number of plankton growing for this time of year.

“Jellyfish feed on plankton, so the conditions are ideal for them to be feeding along the Dorset coast earlier in the year than usual.”

These particular jellyfish do not sting, but the trust is advising members of the public not to touch any jellyfish they find washed up and to report them to the trust to identify and record.

The Trust’s Welly Zone project encourages members of the public to record what they find along the beaches and shallow shorelines in Dorset, including jellyfish. The Marine Conservation Society is also keen to hear from anyone else who finds jellyfish washed up.