Official SUNY ESF DLA Off-Campus Blog


the moon jelly by esfdla
December 6, 2010, 10:12 am
Filed under: Martha's Vineyard 2010

While exploring beaches in the town of Aquinnah over the weekend, several Moon Jellyfish (Aurelia aurita ) were discovered washed ashore on north-side beaches.  Thousands of the transparent jellyfish species were scattered across the shore.  As seen in the photograph below, it was perplexing yet oddly beautiful as the sun reflected against the beached Moon Jellies.

The significant wash ashore this time of year can be attributed to many factors.  The Moon Jelly remains at the surface of the ocean to take advantage of the highest concentration of phytoplankton.  Motion of the species is limited to one direction, and drifting with ocean currents.  Warm end of season ocean temperatures leave the species more susceptible to bacterial infection, disease, and low levels of tissue repair.  In the wild, the Moon Jellyfish lifespan is six months, while in captivity the species lives for years.  To better understand the movement patterns of the species, there is a short video clip from the Vancouver Aquarium below.

Lifelessly reflecting sunlight on miles of beaches, there are no plans to remove the jellyfish from the landscape.  Odorless, the jellyfish will eventually decompose or be taken back out to sea with the incoming tide.

Until next time,

Tim

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