Students learn about the Bering Sea biome and Jellyfish

Jacob WaringOpinions & Features Editor

Mary Decker, a research scientist from Yale’s department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology gave a lecture on how the Bering Sea’s ecosystem is impacted by jellyfish.

Decker started by giving a brief synopsis by making the connection to the jellyfish in the Long Island Sound.

She explained the methodology in gathering the data in jellyfish population fluctuations and how such fluctuations impact the Bering Sea ecosystem. She also said that such information could indirectly indicate how the same data in other Jellyfish habitats could aid scientists in understanding their respective ecosystem.

Decker said that people tend to demonize jellyfish as if they are science fiction monstrosities invading our bodies of water, and this is due to concern that increase in jellyfish will have a negative impact on the ecosystems.

Decker said such human activity such as overfishing, eutrophication, species introductions and artificial structures could impact the frequency of the fluctuations.

“There was a lot of concern about increases on jellyfish blooms resulting from human activity,” sad Decker. “My work focuses on fluctuations of jellyfish and I’m very interested in what happens to the ecosystem when there is a peak in jellyfish [populations].

She said that the correlation between jellyfish and other species that cohabitate with them in the food chain. She also said that jellyfish are competitors and predators in their given biome, a linchpin in that given ecosystem.

She also said that one of the benefits of jellyfish blooming is that they provide shelter for juvenile fish. This is done by the fish hiding from bigger predators within the area of the jellyfish stingers. She said that when jellyfish abundance is low, animals such as sablefish have a lower population than some salmon species such as chinook salmon or pink salmon. Yet, that gets flipped around when the Jellyfish are in abundance.

For Ruthann Paquette, a high schooler taking a couple of classes at Southern this is all new information. She attended the lector out a desire to learn about animals that she does not have a baseline knowledge about.

“I don’t know very much about jellyfish. I kind wanted to know a little more in depth about them and how they are impacting the world.

Others like, environmental systems major Mike Dogolo, a freshmen and sustainability who thought the entire lector in the end was a fascinating topic.

“It was pretty interesting,” he said, “to learn about jellyfishes, their habitat and ecosystem.”

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