PORTLAND, Maine (CBS Local) — When word got around on Peaks Island, Maine, over the weekend that a big purple jelly fish had washed up at Centennial Beach, the Ivers family had to check it out.

“We put all three of our kids next to it and it was still bigger than all three of our kids,” mom Danielle Ivers told WBTS.

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Known as the lion’s mane jellyfish, the species has grown from a normal dinner plate size to up to four or five feet in diameter in Southern New England and Maine just in the last few years, according to biologist Nick Record of Bigelow Labs.

“Over the last couple of years, the lion’s mane jellyfish have been getting startlingly large,” he said.

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Record says thinks there has to be an environmental condition that makes lion’s mane jellyfish vary in size. However, he says it’s difficult to study jellyfish because they can appear and disappear for long periods of time, making it difficult to sustain funding for research.

To help, Record created a citizen jellyfish reporting system. You can email jellyfish sightings to jellyfish@bigelow.org or tweet them with the hashtag #MaineJellies. Please include date, time, and location, as well as any descriptive information such as size or type.

Record cautions that jellyfish should be admired at a safe distance from humans, even on land, saying they may still be able to sting when they’re dead.

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“It can be really painful,” he says. “In some cases, if you’re stung really badly there can be medical issues.”