AROUND a dozen giant jellyfish have washed up at Studland Beach.

New Forest resident Tony Thompson sent in these pictures after he stumbled across the barrel jellyfish during an afternoon walk.

Other beach-goers voiced concerns about swimming in the water – but experts have since confirmed the large jellyfish are harmless to humans.

Tony told the Daily Echo: “We were down for a picnic on Studland Heath and we went for a stroll on the beach on the opposite side of the road.

“We go to the beach quite often but this is the first time I’ve seen any jellyfish down there. We saw about a dozen of them. They were quite big, especially two of them.”

Experts say the barrel jellyfish’s sting will not harm to enough to harm to humans but people are still advised not to touch them.

Gary Hicks, from Bournemouth Oceanarium, said: “You’re best off not touching them, just in case you have a cut on your skin as you may get a mild irritation from them.

“But their stings are not powerful enough to break the skin.

“People call them the basking sharks of the jellyfish world, as they look big and intimidating but they’re actually pretty harmless.”

Last week we reported that another giant barrel jellyfish had washed up at Sandbanks Beach in Poole. In all, around 10 barrel jellyfish sightings have been reported along the south coast in recent weeks.

Last month swarms of them were spotted off Cornwall’s south coast.

The barrel jellyfish can grow to 90 cm wide, with tentacles hanging down up to 6ft.

Gary said: “Normally you wouldn’t get them this close to the shore. With the warm weather and the recent storms the plankton population has exploded in the shallower waters, which attracts the jellyfish.

“This species just feeds on plankton.”

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