Monday, November 30, 2009

Ecology: Giant Jellyfish & Sea Turtles

1 Nature (64)

Giant jellyfish invade Japanese waters

CBS8 San Diego CaliforniaPosted: Dec 01, 2009 3:33 AM CST 
Vast numbers of Echizen jellyfish have appeared on Japan's Pacific coast apparently after drifting from Chinese and Korean waters where they reproduce every year.
Echizen kurage          Yomiui Shimbun/AFP/Getty Images

One Echizen jellyfish can be up to 2.2 metres (7.2ft) in diameter and weigh up to 300 kg (661lbs).
"Since 2002, we've seen huge numbers of giant jellyfish around the coast of Japan every year. In recent years, 2005 was the year when they particularly appeared en masse," said Kiyoshi Kawasaki, assistant director of Japan Fisheries Research Agency.

Could this be due to the recent global decline of the sea turtle population and particularly that of the Leatherback turtle?
Here is an extract from WWF:
Marine turtles fulfill important roles in marine ecosystems 
As a major jellyfish predator, the Leatherback turtle provides natural ecological control of jellyfish populations. Overabundance of jellyfish may reduce fish populations as jellyfish can feed on fish larvae and reduce population growth of commercially important fish. Hence, the presence of Leatherback turtles benefits fish, fisheries and people.
Juvenile Green Turtles are carnivorous and will also eat jellyfish. Here is a beautiful photo captured by Jacob Maentz.
Photo: Jacob Maentz

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