Nav: Home

Jellyfish counterattack in winter

December 13, 2010

A study carried out over 50 years by an international team, with the participation of the Balearic Oceanography Centre of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) has confirmed an increase in the size and intensity of proliferations of the jellyfish Pelagia noctiluca. There are several complex reasons for this - over-fishing and the current increase in sea water temperatures.

"Since 2002, these organisms have become increasingly frequently found in the north east Atlantic in winter, since winters have been warmer, and they have tended to appear earlier and spend more time in their annual cycle there", María Luz Fernández de Puelles, the only Spanish co-author of the study, and a researcher at the IEO's Balearic Oceanography Centre, tells SINC.

The study, which has been published in the journal Biology Letters, brings together 50 years of analysis and shows that warmer winters favour the entry of the surface current into the Mediterranean Sea past Gibraltar, creating ideal conditions for the jellyfish Pelagia noctiluca. This species proliferates along Spanish coasts, where there are more food resources than in oceanic areas.

"We have shown that they can reproduce rapidly if the conditions are right, and can reach large densities throughout the whole year, particularly if winters are warm", the marine biologist explains.

The international team used molecular methods to study the increase in the frequency of this group of cnidaria in the North Sea from 1958 to 2007, a period covering the general change in the hydro-climatic regime from cold to warm observed since 1980. "The records for the Mediterranean are much more recent and not as long or continuous, but they further strengthen the study", says Fernández de Puelles.

Adult Pelagia noctiluca have been recorded in various parts of the western Mediterranean, including the Balearic Islands. Their abundance was particularly striking in the autumn and winter of 2007 and in the spring of 2010, as well as in the summers.

According to existing data for the Mediterranean, these proliferations have a 12-year frequency, with most of them remaining for four years. "However, since 1998 these periods have become shorter and more frequent", explains Fernández de Puelles.

Consequences for fisheries and tourism

The increase in jellyfish over the course of the year "directly" affects fisheries, fish farming and tourism "because of the jellyfishes' toxic effects and the poison in their tentacles, and because they appear particularly in the summer, having a significant socioeconomic impact", says Fernández de Puelles.

According to the expert, the increase in the number of jellyfish and the length of time that they remain is primarily due to over-fishing, but hydroclimatic effects such as climate change and the current warming of the sea also have an impact.

Pelagia noctiluca is a jellyfish from the class of the Scyphozoa with a complex and long life cycle, a very extensive range in the warm waters of the Atlantic and Mediterranean, and which usually lives in pelagic habitats (the area of oceans closest to the surface), but also at a certain depth, which makes them difficult to study. This animal can form 'enormous blooms', which are visible from Spanish coasts and beaches.

"Jellyfish are very voracious predators at the top of the trophic network. They feed directly on fish larvae and compete with other zooplankton organisms for food, meaning that they drastically alter the trophic structure of marine ecosystems", says the scientist. "Further studies should be carried out into the impact of this", she concludes.
-end-
References: Licandro, P.; Conway, D.V.P.; Yahia, M.N. Daly; Fernández de Puelles, M.L.; Gasparini, S.; Hecq, J.H.; Tranter, P.; Kirby, R.R. "A blooming jellyfish in the northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean", Biology Letters 6(5): 688-691, 23 de octubre de 2010.

FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

Related Jellyfish Articles:

Jellyfish fluorescence shines new light on DNA copying
Scientists at the University of York have used florescent proteins from jellyfish to help shed new light on how DNA replicates.
Should you pee on a jellyfish sting? (video)
We all know the evils that come from a run-in with a jellyfish's tentacles.
Hawaii scientists scrutinize first aid for man o' war stings
University of Hawai'i researchers investigated which commonly recommended first aid actions are the most effective for Physalia, man 'o war jellyfish, stings.
Tracing the puzzling origins of clinging jellyfish
The first genetic study of the diversity of clinging jellyfish populations around the globe has discovered some surprising links among distant communities of jellies and also revealed there may be more than one species of the infamous stinger.
Current jellyfish sting recommendations can worsen stings
Researchers at the University of Hawai'i - Mānoa (UHM) investigated whether commonly recommended first aid actions such as rinsing with seawater or scraping away tentacles lessen the severity of stings from two dangerous box jellyfish species.
Bee alert but not alarmed
An Australian-first national analysis of 13 years' data on bites and stings from venomous creatures reveals Australia's towns and cities are a hot-spot for encounters.
Brazilian study compiles data on 958 types of South American jellyfish
Detailed information on 958 distinct morphological types of jellyfish that inhabit the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of South America has been compiled in a census published in Zootaxa, the leading zoological taxonomy journal.
Nomads no more, leatherback turtles find permanent coastal home
Endangered leatherback sea turtles are known for their open-ocean migratory nature and nomadic foraging habits - traveling thousands of miles.
Jellyfish help scientists to fight food fraud
Animals feeding at sea inherit a chemical record reflecting the area where they fed, which can help track their movements, according to a new study by scientists from the University of Southampton.
Predicting jellyfish 'invasions' at coastal power stations
Scientists at the University of Bristol are working with the energy industry to develop an 'early warning tool' to predict the sudden, en masse appearance of jellyfish swarms which can cause serious problems by clogging the water intakes of coastal power plants.

Related Jellyfish Reading:

Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone
by Juli Berwald (Author)

“Part travelogue, part memoir, part deep-dive (literally) into the world of jellyfish... Spineless can serve as inspiration for any of us to reclaim a creative space in the midst of family life.” —NPR

A former ocean scientist goes in pursuit of the slippery story of jellyfish, rediscovering her passion for marine science and the sea’s imperiled ecosystems.

Jellyfish have been swimming in our oceans for well over half a billion years, longer than any other animal that lives on the planet. They make a venom so toxic it can kill a human in three... View Details


The Thing About Jellyfish
by Ali Benjamin (Author)

Now available in paperback, this stunning debut novel about grief and wonder was an instant New York Times bestseller and captured widespread critical acclaim, including selection as a 2015 National Book Award finalist!

Everyone says that it was an accident... that sometimes things "just happen". But Suzy won't believe it. Ever. After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy was a rare jellyfish sting. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory--even if it means traveling the... View Details


Jellyfish (A Day in the Life: Sea Animals)
by Louise Spilsbury (Author)

Beautiful and translucent, jellyfish can be deadly but some are perfectly harmless. Learn about the physical traits of jellyfish, how they move, where they are found, and their hunting and sleeping habits. View Details


Jellyfish: A Natural History
by Lisa-ann Gershwin (Author)

Jellyfish, with their undulating umbrella-shaped bells and sprawling tentacles, are as fascinating and beautiful as they are frightening and dangerous. They are found in every ocean at every depth, and they are the oldest multi-organed life form on the planet, having inhabited the ocean for more than five hundred million years. In many places they are also vastly increasing in number, and these population blooms may be an ominous indicator of the rising temperatures and toxicity of the world’s oceans.

Jellyfish presents these aquarium favorites in all their extraordinary and... View Details


Jellyfish Coloring Book for Grown-Ups 1 (Volume 1)
by Nick Snels (Author)

The perfect book for jellyfish lovers. A collection of 50 beautiful jellies. I've seen more spine, courage and brains in jellyfish.

Vivid colors, great illustrations and imagination are all you need to keep calm and relaxed!

Each picture is printed on its own 8.5 x 11 inch page so no need to worry about smudging.

View Details


Jellyfish (Nature's Children)
by Katie Marsico (Author)

Describes the physical characteristics, behavior, and habitat of jellyfish. View Details


Jellyfish Calendar 2018
by Jellyfish Calendar (Author)

2018 calendar with 13 stunning colour pictures of jellyfish. • Month to view in grid format, with space to write notes for each day
• 2018 overview on page 1, 2019 overview at back of calendar
• Size when closed 21.6cm x 21.6cm. Open size 21.6cm x 43cm Book format for handy desktop reference, but can easily be wall mounted by clips or hole punched for wall hanging. View Details


Peanut Butter and Jellyfish
by Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Author)

Peanut Butter and Jellyfish are best of friends and swim up, down, around, and through their ocean home.
Crabby is their neighbor. He is not their best friend.
But when Crabby gets in trouble, will Peanut Butter and Jellyfish come to the rescue?
You bet they will!
From award-winning picture book creator Jarrett J. Krosoczka, this is a funny and touching story of friendships old and new, and about being brave enough to apologize. View Details


Jenny Jellyfish: A Tale of Wiggly Jellies (No. 23 in Suzanne Tate's Nature Series)
by Suzanne Tate (Author), James Melvin (Illustrator)

Amazing facts about moon jellies, animals with no heart, bones or brain. View Details


Princess Jellyfish 6
by Akiko Higashimura (Author)

LONG DISTANCES

In order to save Amamizukan, the girls decide to put up an exhibition of their work. When the Jelly Fish dresses catch the eye of Asia’s greatest fashion influencer, Kai, it’s not only the dresses that the mogul wants—it’s the designer herself. Tsukimi and the gang are about to get the massive break they need, but at what price…? Afraid that he may lose Tsukimi, Kuranosuke must come to terms with what his true purpose for starting Jelly Fish once was. Meanwhile, Shu learns of the heartbreaking history of Kuranosuke’s mother, while Chieko’s... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

The Big Five
What are the five biggest global challenges we face right now — and what can we do about them? This hour, TED speakers explore some radical solutions to these enduring problems. Guests include geoengineer Tim Kruger, president of the International Rescue Committee David Miliband, political scientist Ian Bremmer, global data analyst Sarah Menker, and historian Rutger Bregman.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#456 Inside a Conservation NGO
This week we take a close look at conservation NGOS: what they do, how they work, and - most importantly - why we need them. We'll be speaking with Shyla Raghav, the Climate Change Lead at Conservation International, about using strategy and policy to tackle climate change. Then we'll speak with Rebecca Shaw, Lead Scientist at the World Wildlife Fund, about how and why you should get involved with conservation initiatives.