A seldom-seen jellyfish species, the Aequorea victoria, colloquially known as the “crystal jelly,” has made a remarkable appearance off the coast of Cornwall, UK.
Experts have noted a “massive influx” of this species, which is typically more prevalent in Mediterranean waters. Reports of the crystal jelly have also emerged from Alderney and Guernsey in August. These observations serve as a compelling indicator of the region’s warming seas.
According to Matt Slater from the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, these jellyfish possess stinging cells, but they lack the potency to harm humans.
Mr Slater said: “For some reason, this year, we’ve had a massive influx all along the south coast.
“I was actually diving last week off the Lizard and there was a huge number of them and they were accumulating in the bays and forming almost a ceiling above us as we were diving underwater.”
The presence of such species can be characterised as “boom or bust.”
He said: “There’s either not many or there’s loads. This is because of their life cycle.
“They reproduce very rapidly and produce thousands of tiny larvae.
“In some years all of them will perish but in other years, when the conditions are different, they may all survive.
“That’s why you sometimes get all or nothing.”
The Aequorea victoria sustains itself by feeding on plankton, encompassing marine plants and animal plankton.
To identify the exact species recorded in these sightings, scientists from Plymouth’s Marine Biological Association, part of the ‘Darwin Tree of Life Project,’ have collected samples for DNA analysis. This meticulous analysis is essential because there are multiple species within the Aequorea family, and DNA examination is the only accurate means of distinguishing one from another.
These findings shed light on the ecological dynamics influenced by warming waters in the UK.
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