Translucent jellyfish, with fish trapped inside it, washes up on UK beach

The fish trapped inside the beached compass jellyfish on a beach near Padstow in Cornwall, U.K., on Aug. 4. (Image credit: Ian Watkins/Triangle News)

A dead jellyfish that recently washed up on a beach in the U.K. shows off its last meal — a whole, and rather surprised-looking, fish — through its translucent bell, stunning photos reveal.

The jelly is a compass jellyfish (Chrysaora hysoscella), named for its brown, V-shaped markings that look like the lines on a compass. The juvenile fish inside has yet to be identified.

Local photographer Ian Watkin spotted the bizarre blob during his morning dog walk near Padstow in Cornwall on Aug. 4, according to The Daily Mail. "It's not something you see every day," he said. 

Related: 13 bizarre things that washed up on beaches

Juvenile fish have been known to seek shelter within the tentacles of jellyfish.  However, the protector turned predator for this particular fish, as experts think it was stung to death by the jelly and would have been slowly digested in its rudimentary stomach, known as a coelenteron, if the jelly had not washed ashore, according to Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

"Often jellyfish are used as nurseries by juvenile fish as they hide amongst their tentacles for protection from predators," Cornwall Wildlife Trust said in a Facebook post. "Unfortunately, this one seems to have been stung and became lunch for the compass."

Compass jellyfish grow to around 12 inches (30 centimeters) in diameter and are commonly spotted in British waters between May to October. They feed on small fish and crabs, as well other jellyfish, and their sting can be very painful but not lethal to humans, according to the Cornwall Wildlife Trust

The one-of-a-kind picture was fortuitously taken during National Marine Week, an initiative set up by the Wildlife Trusts — a group of regional conservation groups in the U.K. — to highlight the unique marine life around the British coastline.

Originally published on Live Science.

Harry Baker
Senior Staff Writer

Harry is a U.K.-based senior staff writer at Live Science. He studied marine biology at the University of Exeter before training to become a journalist. He covers a wide range of topics including space exploration, planetary science, space weather, climate change, animal behavior, evolution and paleontology. His feature on the upcoming solar maximum was shortlisted in the "top scoop" category at the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) Awards for Excellence in 2023.