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A STRANGE "alien-like" creature discovered by a Brit on a New Zealand beach has turned out to be the world's largest jellyfish.

Adam Dickinson, 31, found the bizarre-looking creature while on a day out with his wife and two young children.

In photos it appears as a number of purple blobs arranged in a circle, bounded by a sun-shaped ring of white jelly.

Now the creature has been identified by New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research as a lion's mane jellyfish - the world's largest known species.

When underwater the creature's tentacles can trail up to 190ft - longer than a blue whale.

Adam, who visited the beach with his wife Eve, 34, and his children Lucas, four, and Sofia, two, said the they came across the creature on Pakiri beach, 42 miles north of Auckland.

He said: "We had been out walking and there was up to 100 jellyfish along the estuary and beach.

"At the end, after about an hour, we came across this one.
"It almost looked alien-like and was slowly moving or contracting.
"Our initial reaction was impressed, because it's an amazing looking thing."
Though its stings are rarely fatal, the large number of tentacles mean that medical attention is often recommended after exposure.
In July 2010, the broken-up remains of one such jellyfish were big enough to sting some 150 beachgoers near the US town of Rye, New Hampshire.

Adam said his kids initially ran up to the jelly fish to take a closer look with his son confirming it was still alive.

He said: "They pack a hell of a punch, I have been told.

"I had turned a few jellyfish upside down to explain to the kids not to touch the tentacles, but this was the only one I actually wouldn't touch.

"I have been here nine years and had seen nothing like that."

The lion's mane jellyfish is regularly seen in the waters of the English Channel, Irish Sea, North Sea and around Scandinavia.

While the lion's mane is the biggest jellyfish, the deadliest is the irukandji.

The irukandji jellyfish is almost impossible to see in water as it is about the size of a match head and has a transparent body.

A teenage girl bitten one off the coast of Australia earlier this year was in so much pain, she said she begged her mum to let her die.