GIANT jellyfish have been washing ashore along the Dorset coast thanks to the spring tides and windy weather.

Over the past few days more and more sightings of the barrel jellyfish, which is relatively rare in coastal areas and can be as long as one metre (three feet), have been reported both in the sea and washed up on beaches.

Steve Trewhella, a professional wildlife photographer and environmental campaigner, has been tracking the creatures.

“They are not at all dangerous to people, but it is best not to touch any jellyfish unless you are sure what it is,” he said.

“They are heavy creatures and they get washed in to shore, and when the tide goes out they can't escape and end up beached. Barrel jellyfish are a favourite food of the leatherback turtle so we might see some of those here too.

“I know not everyone likes jellyfish, but their presence shows the seas are working as they should.”

He encouraged people to take pictures of the creatures if they spot them as reports are of interest to conservation groups, such as the Marine Conservation Society.

“They are amazing creatures and they may not be back for a while,” he added.