Artificial reefs for sea cucumber aquaculture confirmed as settlement substrates of the moon jellyfish Aurelia coerulea
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In coastal areas with a high intensity of human activities, expansion of artificial structures may enhance Aurelia spp. blooms because these constructions may provide additional substrates for the settlement and proliferation of the polyps. In the present study, the possible occurrence and distribution of Aurelia coerulea ephyrae and polyps were investigated in sea cucumber (Apostichopus japonicus) culture ponds that contain huge amounts of artificial structures. Our results showed that A. coerulea ephyrae were widely distributed in the A. japonicus culture ponds along the Bohai and Yellow Seas. Furthermore, underwater photography revealed that polyps of A. coerulea mainly occurred on the undersides of the artificial reefs made by plastic sunshade nets, tiles and substrate cages. The artificial reefs may decrease the time A. coerulea planulae spend settling, provide more hidden, calm and shady places for the settlement and proliferation of A. coerulea planulae, and thus were suitable substrates for the moon jellyfish A. coerulea. Our study suggests that the A. japonicus culture ponds may act as nursery grounds for the jellyfish A. coerulea and may potentially enhance the blooms of this species in the coastal waters along the Bohai and Yellow Seas.
KeywordsJellyfish blooms Ephyrae Polyps Sea cucumber Aurelia coerulea
This work was supported by Grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41576152), the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. XDA11020305), and the Science and Technology Service Network Initiative (STS) Project (No. KFJ-STS-ZDTP-023). Z.J.D. gratefully acknowledges the visiting scholarship programme from the China Scholarship Council and host from Dr. Kylie Pitt at Griffith University.
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