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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications / A modelling approach to trace the origin of jellyfish swarms in the Southern North Sea.

Valérie Duliere, Francis Kerckhof and Geneviève Lacroix (2014)

A modelling approach to trace the origin of jellyfish swarms in the Southern North Sea.

In: AMEMR (Advances in Marine Ecosystem Research), June 30th to July 3rd 2014, in Plymouth (UK).

The life cycle, the phenology and the interannual variability of jellyfish (i.e. cnidaria medusozoa scyphozoa) are under study across the world as there is debate on their increasing occurrence under human pressure (overfishing, eutrophication, climate change) (Condon et al. 2012). Beside interference in human activities, jellyfish swarms affect the marine food web as these organisms feed on fish eggs and larvae, and compete for food with adult fish (Lynam et al. 2005, Pauly et al. 2009). Whether jellyfish nuisance can be mitigated remains unclear and depends on our understanding of the causes of outbreaks. Most North Sea jellyfish species have a sessile polyp stage as part of their life cycle, and therefore need solid substrate to fix. While A. aurita polyps are visible along the Belgian and Dutch coasts, the location of other species polyps (e.g. Cyanea, Chrysaora) remains largely unknown. Tracing back the origin of an observed jellyfish swarm in the North Sea could help identifying the potential location of polyps and the timing and temperature of strobilation. A Lagrangian particle tracking model parameterized for jellyfish in the English Channel and the southern North Sea is used in backtracking (15 days) and forecast (3 days; forced by UKMO forecast) modes to study the potential origin and fate of jellyfish swarms. A backtracking simulation was applied on a jellyfish swarm observed in 2013 in the Belgian coastal zone . It allowed identifying potential areas of origin for the outbreak, raising new scientific questions. A first sensitivity study illustrates the wind influence on the backtracking simulation.
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