News article created on 15 August 2018

Middlewich: I don't think you're ready for this jelly(fish)

What’s white, see-through, and has just moved in to the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal? Jellyfish.

Freshwater jellyfish Credit Stepanka Nemcova Creative Commons Freshwater jellyfish Credit Stepanka Nemcova Creative Commons

We have received several reports of the tiny tentacled creatures being present in the water near Bridge 23 off Clive Back Lane. They are believed to be freshwater jellyfish, Craspedacusta sowerbii, a non-native species about the size of a 10p coin.

Sara Hill, ecologist at the Trust, said she is not aware of them being seen in the charity’s 2,000 miles of canals and rivers before.

"It’s a really unusual sight, we’re used to seeing all sorts of fish, birds and insects here in Middlewich, but jellyfish are a first and certainly make an interesting addition to the local wildlife.

"It’s thought that the hot and sunny weather could have encouraged the jellyfish to these parts and created perfect conditions for them, but we don’t know whether they will make their permanent home here so we’re finding out as much as we can.

"Anyone who is out enjoying the towpath this summer should keep their eyes open for these and other interesting sights, and do let us know what you spot by sharing your photos and stories on social media using #lifesbetterbywater."

Freshwater jellyfish are native to the Yangtze basin in China but have been introduced around the world. They may have arrived in the UK in the first half of the 19th century when explorers would bring back flora and fauna from their travels. They prefer standing water and feed on tiny organisms which they catch with their stinging tentacles, but being so small they do not pose any danger to people.

A different species of jellyfish is known to live in the Liverpool South Docks, which is also managed by the Trust. They enter from the adjoining River Mersey and have been spotted as far along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal as Stanley Flight.