Monday, July 31, 2006

Alien Moon Jellyfish Blooms

It's interesting the connection with Jellyfish and the moon

The Blob That Attacked Waikiki

They come ten days after the full moon, swarming to shore, nearly invisible and wielding poison-loaded tentacles. A few days later, they disappear just as mysteriously as they had come, leaving behind their microscopic spawn. No, this isn’t the plot of another science-fiction movie; it is a real, monthly occurrence on the beaches of Oahu, Hawaii. These creatures are aliens, but they aren’t from space. They are an alien species of box jellyfish that has been invading Hawaii’s waters for almost two decades. Lifeguards, tourists, and scientists all keep a wary vigilance for this particular box jelly, called Carybdea alata....


And then there was this story about moon jellyfish.

Jellyfish Invade the Globe, Thanks to Humans

There are exotic Frankenfish in the Potomac, unbearably noisy foreign frogs in Hawaii, and the destructive spiny water fleas that have snuck into northern lakes.

Now you can add alien moon jellyfish to the growing list of invasive species that threaten ecosystems around the planet.

Scientists announced the discovery of 16 new species of "moon jellyfish" today while also saying the creatures are invading marine environments all over the world.

"Marine organisms traverse the globe in ballast water, on ship hulls and through the trade of exotic species such as tropical fish," said study leader Mike Dawson of the University of California, Davis. "This has potential to displace local marine species, threaten ecosystems and cause billions of dollars in damage and preventive control."


This article has a more positive take on it (I think that finding new species of moon jellies is a good thing - not a bad thing ) - and a slideshow of some interesting new jellyfish and other finds.

Voyage Takes a Census of Life in the Sea

Scientists collected more than 1,000 shrimplike creatures, swimming snails and worms, and gelatinous animals, including many species never seen before, on a landmark cruise to take inventory of the ocean's zooplankton.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution biologist Peter Wiebe led a team of 28 scientists from 14 nations, who used fine-mesh nets to sample from the sea surface to depths of nearly three miles (five kilometers). The April 2006 cruise across the tropical Atlantic Ocean... was part of the Census of Marine Zooplankton (CMarZ) project—an ambitious global effort to assess the kinds, numbers, ranges, and roles of thousands of tiny animals species that provide the link in the marine food chain between marine plant life and predators from fish to whales.

While still at sea, experts in taxomony (the classification of organisms) identified captured species under microscopes while researchers sequenced their genes to create unique DNA “bar codes.” Future scientists will be able to identify species more easily, even if they didn't study taxonomy themselves.

“Genetic bar codes will be a big step forward,” Wiebe said. “We are trying to provide the stepping-stones so future generations can use the results of this project as a benchmark to measure at a glance how ecosystems are changing in the future.”

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