Skip Navigation

Species Search:
FieldGuidesthreatened and/or endangered search resultsthreatened and/or endangered

previous  | next

Lion's Mane Cyanea capillata


enlarge +

Lion's Mane
credit: Dan Hershman/CCSA

All Images


Get Our Newsletters


Advanced Search

Category: Jellies, Anemones and kin view all from this category

Description The lion's mane jellyfish (Cyanea capillata) is the largest known species of jellyfish. Its range is confined to cold, boreal waters of the Arctic, northern Atlantic, and northern Pacific Oceans, seldom found farther south than 42° N latitude. Similar jellyfish, which may be the same species, are known to inhabit seas near Australia and New Zealand. The largest recorded specimen found, washed up on the shore of Massachusetts Bay in 1870, had a bell (body) with a diameter of 7 feet 6 inches (2.29 m) and tentacles 120 feet (37 m) long.

The taxonomy of the Cyanea species is not fully agreed upon; some zoologists have suggested that all species within the genus should be treated as one. Two distinct taxa, however, occur together in at least the eastern North Atlantic, with the blue jellyfish (Cyanea lamarckii PÈron & Lesueur, 1810) differing in blue (not red) color and smaller size (10–20 cm diameter, rarely 35 cm). Populations in the western Pacific around Japan are sometimes distinguished as Cyanea nozakii Kisinouye, 1891, or as a race, Cyanea capillata nozakii.

Warning Highly toxic. Contact with the Lion's Mane's tentacles produces severe burning and blistering. Prolonged exposure may cause muscle cramps and breathing difficulties.

Habitat Open ocean.

Range California, Texas, Mid-Atlantic, Florida, New England, Western Canada, Northwest, Eastern Canada, Alaska.