AS concerns grow that jellyfish are taking over the oceans, a North Yorkshire sea life centre has announced a new £150,000 exhibit examining one of the marine world's most resilient creatures.

The Northern Echo:

Scarborough Sea Life Centre will open the jellyfish feature in February. It will include around six different species from around the world, housed in large column tanks.

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Curator Lyndsey Crawford said: “Jellyfish are not only one of the strangest and most primitive species in our seas, they are also perhaps the most adaptable.

“As other species decline through overfishing, global warming and other problems, jellyfish are the species best equipped to fill the gap.”

The exhibition opens amid marine experts’ concern that jellyfish are taking over the seas.

Able to tolerate a wider range of temperatures, salinity and acidity levels than most species, jellyfish numbers are already on the rise.

The changing chemistry of the Mediterranean has been cited by some scientists as the cause of massive jellyfish blooms there in recent years.

“We have also had unprecedented swarms of jellyfish in north European seas,” said Ms Crawford.

The sea life centre aims to showcase the large variety of shapes, colours and sizes that jellyfish come in – but the five or six that will be on view will be only a fraction of the 350-plus varieties of the sea creature so far identified.

The long term impact on ocean eco-systems is uncertain but jellyfish populations may be expanding globally as a result of overfishing of their natural predators.

Ms Crawford added: “We will have purple striped jellyfish which have been specially bred for us in captivity in Boston, USA.

“We will have a species known as the edible jellyfish from Japan, which comes in three different colours, white, blue and red.

“And we will have blue spotted and moon jellies and another species called the Australian spotted jellyfish.”

Visitors will not only see the different colours and movements of the jellyfish but also get an insight into their lifestyles and biology.

“They have no brain, heart or skeleton - the more you learn about them the more they begin to sound like some sort of science fiction creation.”