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Coming to a Cottage Near You: Jellyfish

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Would you ever expect to see a jellyfish gently pulsating its way through your cottage lake? Probably not, but apparently it's becoming more likely.

Terry Peard, a retired biology professor in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who keeps tabs on freshwater jellyfish sightings on freshwaterjellyfish.org, told the Star he has "several hundred reports from 2012." The complete list includes dozens of sightings across Canada over the past decade or so, most of which come from Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia.

Ontario's Belmont Lake and Go Home Lake, which were featured in the article, are only a couple of examples. The list on Peard's website includes a number of other lakes located in popular cottaging regions, such as Dorset, Parry Sound, Haliburton County, the Muskokas, and areas farther east toward Ottawa.

Considering these small, umbrella-shaped jellyfish are typically found drifting in warm water, increased sightings have inevitably been chalked up to global warming, however, Peard also attributes the apparent increase to the digital age. People are not only becoming more aware of the creatures' presence, but the Internet has also made it easier for people to report these sightings, he says.

Lucky for us, freshwater jellyfish do differ slightly from marine jellyfish. In case you spot something with a whorl of string-like tentacles floating around in your lake, it's important to know these jellyfish are not harmful to humans.

For a complete list of freshwater jellyfish sightings in cottage country lakes, check out Peard's website: jellyfishsightings.org.

For more interesting wildlife sightings in cottage country this year, see "Are there more cougars, or are we all just seeing things?"