Stranding events provide indirect insights into the seasonality and persistence of jellyfish medusae (Cnidaria : Scyphozoa)

Jonathan Houghton, T.K. Doyle, J. Davenport, M.K.S. Lilley, R.P. Wilson, G.C. Hays

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


It is becoming increasingly evident that jellyfish (Cnidaria: Scyphozoa) play an important role within marine ecosystems, yet our knowledge of their seasonality and reproductive strategies is far from complete. Here, we explore a number of life history hypotheses for three common, yet poorly understood scyphozoan jellyfish (Rhizostoma octopus; Chrysaora hysoscella; Cyanea capillata) found throughout the Irish and Celtic Seas. Specifically, we tested whether (1) the bell diameter/wet weight of stranded medusae increased over time in a manner that suggested a single synchronised reproductive cohort; or (2) whether the range of sizes/weights remained broad throughout the stranding period suggesting the protracted release of ephyrae over many months. Stranding data were collected at five sites between 2003 and 2006 (n = 431 surveys; n = 2401 jellyfish). The relationship between bell diameter and wet weight was determined for each species (using fresh specimens collected at sea) so that estimates of wet weight could also be made for stranded individuals. For each species, the broad size and weight ranges of stranded jellyfish implied that the release of ephyrae may be protracted (albeit to different extents) in each species, with individuals of all sizes present in the water column during the summer months. For R. octopus, there was a general increase in both mean bell diameter and wet weight from January through to June which was driven by an increase in the variance and overall range of both variables during the summer. Lastly, we provide further evidence that rhizostome jellyfish may over-wintering as pelagic medusa which we hypothesise may enable them to capitalise on prey available earlier in the year.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Oceanography
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Pollution
  • Water Science and Technology


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