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New freshwater jellyfish is found in Lough Erne

A new freshwater jellyfish species has been found in Lough Erne.

But don't panic – the tiny jellyfish, which has never been recorded in Ireland until this summer, is non-stinging and presents no danger to humans.

The tiny jellyfish were found in Lough Derg in early August – the first time they have been confirmed in Ireland – and were sighted in Lough Erne several weeks later.

Experts say they could have been present in Ireland's waterways for decades, but only came to people's attention this summer because of the unusually hot conditions.

The creatures were first spotted by angler Pat Joyce who saw hundreds of them moving just under the surface of the water while fishing for bream at Scarriff harbour, just off Lough Derg.

Staff from Inland Fisheries Ireland collected 20 live specimens and identified them as Craspedacusta sowerbyi, a species which hails from the Yangtze River Valley in China but has spread worldwide.

Meanwhile, several weeks later more jellyfish were collected by a mother pond-dipping with her children on Lough Erne and the video was posted on YouTube.

John Early, invasive species officer with Northern Ireland's Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, said: "They're about the size of a 1-2p piece and are widely established across a lot of Europe's waterways."

Belfast Telegraph