, Volume 690, Issue 1, pp 113-125
Date: 15 Mar 2012

Large medusae in surface waters of the Northern California Current: variability in relation to environmental conditions

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Blooms of jellyfish around the world have been correlated with climatic variables related to environmental causes. Sizeable populations of large medusae, primarily Chrysaora fuscescens and Aequorea sp., appear annually in shelf waters of the Northeast Pacific Ocean. Previous research has shown that C. fuscescens is abundant seasonally in the inner shelf and exhibits high feeding rates on zooplankton. We examined medusae caught in surface trawls over an 8-year period (2000–2007) using (1) mesoscale surveys sampling 8–10 transects in May, June, and September, and (2) biweekly surveys along two transects from April to August, relating abundance to environmental parameters. C. fuscescens abundances generally peaked in late summer, whereas Aequorea sp. peaked in May or June. General additive models of the mesoscale data indicated that station catches for both species correlated with latitude, temperature, salinity, and distance from shore (and chlorophyll a for Aequorea sp.). Analysis of interannual variability revealed that highest catches of medusae correlated with cool spring–summer conditions, or negative anomalies of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and low winter–summer runoff from the Columbia River. Results confirmed our hypothesis of connections between jellyfish populations and regional climate conditions in a region known for strong physical forcing of ecosystem processes.

Guest editors: J. E. Purcell, H. Mianzan & J. R. Frost / Jellyfish Blooms: Interactions with Humans and Fisheries