Marine Biology

, Volume 158, Issue 12, pp 2639–2652 | Cite as

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

  • Thomas BastianEmail author
  • Damien Haberlin
  • Jennifer E. Purcell
  • Graeme C. Hays
  • John Davenport
  • Rob McAllen
  • Thomas K. Doyle
Original Paper


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.


Visual Survey Surface Count Pelagic Trawl Jellyfish Population Physical Discontinuity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



TB, TKD, JEP, GCH, and JD were supported by the EcoJel project, funded through the INTERREG IVa programme of the European Regional Development Fund. Irish Ferries provided free berths on the Dublin-Holyhead route through a partnership with the EcoJel team. The authors wish to thank Clare O’Neill and Michael John Howarth at the National Oceanography Centre in Liverpool (UK) for providing environmental data for the Irish Sea. We thank Christopher P. Lynam for authorisation to and help in adapting figures from Lynam et al. (2011). We acknowledge with many thanks Jane E. Kelleher and Mary-Catherine Gallagher for their assistance in the field, as well as Louise Allcock, Emmett Clarkin, Nicholas Fleming, Niall McGinty, and Paul McEvilly who were involved in the zooplankton/algal raft cruise and much appreciation is expressed to the skipper and crew of the RV Celtic Voyager. We are grateful to Emily Baxter and Martin Lilley for their valuable feedbacks and to Jonathan Houghton and two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments. We acknowledge use of the free software R ( for statistical analysis and the use of ESRI ArcMap™ 9.2 for generating maps.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Bastian
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Damien Haberlin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jennifer E. Purcell
    • 3
  • Graeme C. Hays
    • 4
  • John Davenport
    • 2
  • Rob McAllen
    • 2
  • Thomas K. Doyle
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Coastal and Marine Research Centre, ERI, Glucksman Marine FacilityUniversity College CorkCobhIreland
  2. 2.School of Biological, Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity College CorkCorkIreland
  3. 3.Shannon Point Marine CenterWestern Washington UniversityAnacortesUSA
  4. 4.Department of BiosciencesSwansea UniversitySwanseaUK

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