PICTURES: Sightings of the creatures are booming, say the Marine Conservation Society.

THE recent hot weather has turned the North Devon seas into 'jellyfish soup' with sightings being reported all along the coastline.

Reports of the creatures were low at the beginning of the year but have 'exploded' throughout July, said Dr. Peter Richardson, biodiversity programme manager for the Marine Conservation Society.

Most commonly spotted are the blue jellyfish, which has a mild sting like nettles, followed by the moon jellyfish which is said to be harmless.

"Because of the really cold spring jellyfish sightings were really delayed," said Dr Richardson.

"Even in May they were very low, but with the recent weather they have absolutely exploded and we're getting a lot of records every day.

"It's still very early in the season for jellyfish, but some parts of the UK are already looking like jellyfish soup."

Dr Richardson warned people to 'look but not touch' and to report any sightings to the Marine Conservation Society.

He said the warmer waters had led to the creatures reproducing rapidly, but there are other theories as to why sightings are increasing.

"Jellyfish are great opportunists; they have been on this planet virtually unchanged for about 500 million years," he said.

"They feed on plankton and one theory is over-fishing of plankton-eating fish such as herring is removing that predation pressure; there is less competition for food."

Beach-goers can download a jellyfish ID card from the MCS website and report the sightings at www.mcsuk.org/sightings.

PICTURES: Have you spotted any jellyfish? Send your photos to sarah.howells@archant.co.uk and click the gallery on the right of the page to view more photos of these unusual creatures.