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Scientists discover stinging truths about jellyfish blooms in the Bering Sea

efore developing into swarming adults. If this occurs, there may be time lags between ongoing increases in water temperatures and resulting appearances of adult jellyfish swarms.

  • Cause polyp habitats to move. Such movements may be reflected in the recent expansion of jellyfish habitats.

    "No one has ever seen jellyfish polyps in the Bering Sea," says Ciannelli. "So we don't know how temperature changes impact them." That is why Ciannelli is currently using new computer models to help track down probable polyp locations. "We must find those polyps," Ciannelli affirms.

    The Long Tentacles of Environmental Change

    Scientists generally agree that human-caused stresses, including global warming and overfishing, are encouraging jellyfish surpluses in many tourist destinations and productive fisheries. These jellyfish-rich locations include Australia, the Gulf of Mexico, Hawaii, the Black Sea, Namibia, the United Kingdom, the Mediterranean, the Sea of Japan and the Yangtze Estuary.

    Study Implications

    "This study--which represents a multi-disciplinary effort between experts in marine ecology, statistics and the mathematical geosciences--does more than just answer important questions about jellyfish ecology," says NSF Program Director Grace Yang. "It also provides a model for estimating populations based on incomplete data." Such models may be applied to other marine and land-based ecological studies and to studies of the spread of infectious diseases, says Yang.


  • Contact: Lily Whiteman
    National Science Foundation

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