Shifting Baselines

In what was probably the largest Thanksgiving feast this week, a swarm of billions of jellyfish attacked a salmon farm in Northern Ireland yesterday and ate $2 million worth of fish. Jellyfish and slime are taking over the oceans, just as Dr. Jeremy Jackson always warns. Billions of jellyfish feasting on more than 100,000 salmon, just another shifting baseline.

Comments

  1. #1 Milan
    November 22, 2007

    That is distinctly scary: like science fiction or a biblical plague.

    Do you have a new banner today? The font looks like Gill Sans.

  2. #2 Gav
    November 22, 2007

    Mind, Cardigan Bay and the Irish Sea have long been a good hunting ground for jelly lovers like Mabel
    http://www.aber.ac.uk/~dbswww/prospective/seaturtles_latestnews.html

    Is the latest swarm a sign of possible “trophic cascade” in this area, or is it just one of those things – what do you think?

  3. #3 Jonathan
    November 22, 2007

    As a former Jellyfish researcher, and a current fisheries scientist, I should point out that the fish weren’t eaten, but succumbed to the stings and mucus that large blooms will inflict. Pelagia noctiluca is a very small animal by jellyfish standards (Typically a few cm across the bell, up to 10cm) and like most jellyfish, they are planktivores. Having been stung by this species as a graduate student, I can imagine that the effect of so many would have given the fish no chance of survival.
    In our changing ocean ecosystems, jellyfish blooms are certainly an increasing hazard worthy of study,but talk of ‘feasting on’ salmon conjures up B-movie images that detract from the real threats. Sorry to be a stickler! :) Keep up the good work.

    P.S. – At the 1st International Conference on Jellyfish Blooms in Gulf Shores, Alabama, in 2000, we discussed the word “Smuck” as the proper collective noun for jellyfish :)

  4. #4 Lucas
    November 22, 2007

    Finally, a simple solution to the problem of open net fish farming!

  5. #5 Jennifer L. Jacquet
    November 22, 2007

    Jonathan. Good point. Feasting they were not. I should have said ‘attacking’ but I got hung up on the Thanksgiving theme. We have a new student with the Sea Around Us Project who will be looking a lot at jellyfish blooms globally so I should have more details about increases soon! As for the banner, yes it is new and indeed replete with Gill Sans. What do you think?

  6. #6 Jonathan
    November 22, 2007

    Oh, that’s really cool. I’m glad there’s more folks looking at it these days, as it’s a really important field. Feel free to send them my way should they want to bounce any ideas around. I’m not sure if you the administrator can see the email addresses, but I’m at Simon Fraser!

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