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Rise of the Jellyfish

October 12, 2011

Giant jellyfish have what it takes to become king of the seas in the future.



The oceans’ gelatinous future. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

There are fewer and fewer big fish in the sea, and giant jellyfish may be stepping in to fill the void.  This according to marine ecologist Sean Colin of Roger Williams University in Rhode Island.  Jellyfish populations appear to be surging around the globe, at least anecdotally.  Colin teamed up with researchers in Spain to figure out if jellies could really compete with predatory fish for resources.

SEAN COLIN (Roger Williams University/Marine Biological Laboratory):

Because fish on the other hand, use eyesight, which gives them a huge advantage, they can strike prey very rapidly. So they’re very effective predators.


They found that while jellies do eat less than predatory fish, they also expend a lot less energy hunting and growing.  Colin notes that since overfishing and ecological damage hurt fish much more than jellies, the stage may well be set for jellyfish to dominate the seas.  And since jellyfish are are a big nuisance to fishermen, that’s one more reason to conserve fish populations and protect their environment. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.