, Volume 158, Issue 12, pp 2639-2652
Date: 07 Aug 2011

Large-scale sampling reveals the spatio-temporal distributions of the jellyfish Aurelia aurita and Cyanea capillata in the Irish Sea

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Abstract

At-sea distributions of large scyphozoan jellyfish across the Irish Sea were studied using visual surface counts from ships of opportunity. Thirty-seven surveys were conducted along two >100 km long transects between Ireland and the UK from April to September in 2009 and 2010. Five species were recorded but only Aurelia aurita and Cyanea capillata were frequently observed. The first formal description of the seasonal changes in the abundances and distributions of these two species in the study area is provided. The highest densities of these species were more likely to be found ~30 km offshore, but large aggregations were present both in coastal and offshore waters. Evidence for aggregations of medusae along physical discontinuities was provided by coupling jellyfish observations with simultaneous records of environmental parameters. The value of surveys from ships of opportunity as cost-effective semi-quantitative tools, to develop local knowledge on jellyfish abundance, distribution, and phenology is discussed.

Communicated by J. D. R. Houghton.