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Long-term study links box jellyfish abundance, environmental variability at Waikiki Beach
Date:10/23/2013

ation sizes varied substantially with no predictable seasonality. In a 400-meter section of the beach, an average of 396 jellyfish arrived each lunar month, with actual numbers ranging from 5 to 2,365 individuals per arrival event.

The total number of box jellyfish arriving to Waikiki displayed no net increase or decrease during the past 14 years, but instead followed an oscillating pattern with periods of increase and decrease, each one lasting approximately four years. Such patterns, the UH scientists propose, are likely influenced by climate fluctuations that play a role in large scale primary production in the ocean, regulating food availability, and ultimately affecting the numbers of local jellyfish.

To try to explain the 14-year trend of box jellyfish arrivals, Chiaverano, PBRC Associate Research Professor Brenden Holland, and Waikīkī Aquarium Marine Biologist Jerry Crow analyzed three major climatic indexes, 13 oceanographic variables (available from Station ALOHA by the UH Hawai'i Ocean Time-series (HOT) program), and seven local weather parameters. Although researchers found no significant relationship between beach counts and any of the weather parameters, jellyfish beach counts exhibited a strong, positive relationship with the North Pacific Gyre Oscillation index (a decadal-scale climatic measurement specific to the sub-tropical Pacific), primary production, and abundance of small zooplankton.

The authors concluded that the number of box jellyfish arriving at Waikīkī is likely controlled by bottom-up processes: the NPGO is an index of water mass movement, wherein the higher the value, the higher the advection or transport of nutrient-richer waters from the northern Pacific into the oceanic waters around the Hawaiian Islands. This boost may drive regional primary production, and in turn increase zooplankton biomass (food for box jellyfis
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Contact: Talia Ogliore
togliore@hawaii.edu
808-956-4531
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Source:Eurekalert  

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