Moon jellyfish seems to be devouring zooplankton in Puget Sound

The GoPro camera will show the moon jellyfish underwater in the Sinclair Strait on August 25, 2021. Moon jellyfish tend to gather in protected bays. According to new research, when populations surge, moon jellyfish can consume significant amounts of zooplankton in their waters.Credit: University of Washington

Herds of jellyfish have been seen more frequently in Puget Sound over the past few decades, and some biologists speculate that these fast-growing jellyfish will be particularly successful in the warmer waters of the future.

The moon jellyfish, or Aurelia labiata, is unique in that it has vast flowers among the various jellyfish species that inhabit Puget Sound. As the population grows exponentially, it can occupy a bay and create dramatic sights.

According to a study led by the University of Washington, moon jellyfish feed on zooplankton, a variety of small animals that drift along the stream in their bays. This can affect other hungry marine life, such as juvenile salmon and herring. This is especially true if the forecasts are correct and climate change is in favor of fast-growing jellyfish.

A team of researchers from Highline College, Western Washington University, and the US Marine and Atmospheric Administration presented the work as a poster at the Marine Science Conference on March 2.

“These aggregates can contain thousands to millions of individuals and can cover a large area of ​​space,” said Hira, the lead author of the University of Washington’s Graduate School of Oceanography. Schultz says. “Often it’s really amazing to see these aggregates when they are encountered in a protected bay.”

Correigh Greene, a team member at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, has been studying jellyfish in Puget Sound for over a decade. Many species are becoming more common, and he found that they were seen in 2015 and thrived in warmer water than expected in the future.

Moon jellyfish seems to be devouring zooplankton in Puget Sound

A view of the sea surface on August 25, 2021 in the Sinclair Strait shows a herd of moon jellyfish during a sampling cruise. Other types of jellyfish, such as lion mane and yolk jellyfish, also surge in summer, but do not collect in a single area like moon jellyfish.Credits: Haila Schultz / University of Washington

“Why are there more jellyfish? And what impact will the increase in moon jellyfish have on the Puget Sound ecosystem?” Ask Julie Keister, a professor of oceanography at the University of Washington. ..

Through field sampling and laboratory experiments, new studies suggest that moon jellyfish blue-green algae may have significant local effects on the base of the marine food web.

The team took water samples from the Quartermaster Harbor on Vashon Island and the Sinclair Inlet south of Bremerton during a surge in moon jellyfish populations at the end of the summer of 2019, 2020 and 2021. Moon Jellyfish Hotspot: Bad and Eld Inlets.

Water samples taken during the summer quartermaster harbor and moon jellyfish population surges in the Sinclair Strait over the past three years show dramatically lower levels of zooplankton, especially copepods, within the moon jellyfish population. I did. The average density of copepods was 73% lower in the aggregate than in the rest of the bay.

“This strongly suggests that moon jellyfish eat copepods in the aggregate and reduce their populations,” Schultz said.

The team also conducted experiments at Highline College’s MAST Center in the summer of 2019 and 2020. They put different numbers of moon jellyfish in 10 large tanks filled with local seawater and zooplankton. When researchers measured zooplankton levels two hours later, copepod levels were as low as 75% in the moon jellyfish-rich aquarium.

“Combining these two results shows that Puget Sound jellyfish can eat many copepods and may be altering zooplankton populations in these bays,” Keister said. Says. “We don’t have a field rate yet, but we’ve observed in experiments that moon jellyfish are apparently preying on copepods at very fast rates.”

Researchers are still analyzing their data. Ultimately, they hope to establish a moon jellyfish feeding rate and incorporate it into the Puget Sound ecosystem model to predict how different populations will be carried in response to environmental conditions. I’m out.

Why do jellyfish still attract predators when they don’t contain calories?

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Moon jellyfish seems to be devouring zooplankton in Puget Sound

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