Every year, the Marine Conservation Society and citizen scientists, like you, are on the lookout for jellyfish and marine turtles around the UK. From May-September, jellyfish arrive in UK waters in their hundreds, attracting turtles to feed here, too. If you spot jellyfish or turtles on your trip to the coast this summer, the Marine Conservation Society want to hear all about it.
Jellyfish and turtles are really good at indicating change in our ocean. Collecting data on when and where they visit helps marine researchers investigate how they use our waters and if it’s changing over time. Your sightings might even help to explore and identify leatherback turtle feeding grounds around our coastline.
Jellyfish are important for marine ecosystems. They play a huge role in lots of marine food chains and provide habitats for smaller species which shelter under their bells, protected by their tentacles.
There are eight jellyfish or jellyfish-like species which are most common in our waters – these are the ones to keep an eye out for. You can find out more about these species and how to identify them here.
Of the seven marine turtle species, six have been spotted in UK waters.
Each summer, Leatherback turtles come to our waters to feast on the jellyfish blooms that occur here. Leatherbacks are the largest marine turtle species and are the only reptile which can metabolically regulate their own body temperature which allows them to survive in temperate UK waters. There were 11 sightings of Leatherback turtles in 2021, with three of those spotted around the South West coast.
The other hard-shelled turtles that are spotted around the UK are normally young juveniles, which get caught up in strong currents end up in our cold waters. If you spot a hard-shelled turtle, don’t return it to the sea – call for help. You can find the best people to contact and tips on what to do using the Turtle Code.
How to report a sighting
It’s really easy to get involved and report your sighting. Just head to https://www.mcsuk.org/what-you-can-do/sightings/ to find out more, get some top ID tips and report what you’ve seen on your trip to the coast.