Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
Jellyfish are often feared for their ability to deliver painful stings but it turns out that the gelatinous beauties could be serving an important purpose for the world’s oceans. As Eos explained,
A new study in the AGU journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles estimates how much carbon gelatinous sea creatures store in their bodies and where that carbon goes.
The results show that 3.7–6.8 billion metric tons of organic carbon can be traced back to jellies each year, an amount on par with the United States’ 2018 carbon dioxide emissions.
Mass jelly die-offs (called jelly-falls) alone could increase estimates of the total carbon that reaches the bottom of the ocean by 35%, according to the study.
Ultimately, a substantial portion of that carbon could end up stored on the ocean floor.
Why This Matters: Large numbers of jellyfish are seen as a sign of overfishing and their ability to thrive in warming (and even polluted) ocean waters make them a symbol of collapsing ecosystems. But we’re only beginning to understand the role that jellies play in the ocean. For instance, Oceana scientists think they may be a “barometer” of ecosystem health.
And according to NatGeo, research suggests a surprising variety of sea creatures feed on jellyfish, and that their growing populations may not be so bad.
Shaking a Bad Rap: As Eos went on to explain, the negative associations that people have with jellyfish, as well as the difficulty of directly sampling creatures with such fragile bodies, mean that jellies have been understudied compared with many ocean creatures.
“For so long, observationalists have ignored these organisms, thinking that they’re not important to food webs,” said Jessica Luo, a research oceanographer with NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and lead author of the new study.
But in recent years, researchers like Luo have begun to uncover the benefits of jellies.
Using new methods like camera traps, studies have shown that jellies are actually an important food source to animals like sea turtles and provide a safe haven for many species of baby fish.
This week it was amazing to see critically endangered species propagating with the help of humans. The North Carolina Zoo announced yesterday it has welcomed three litters of highly endangered American Red Wolves – 12 pups in total. There are only around 20 of this species of wolf remaining in the wild. And scientists have […]
After a week of being on the loose in Houston, a 9-month-old tiger named India was found this weekend and appeared to be unharmed. India was spotted by a group of residents as he was prowling around a local neighborhood. As NBC News reported, India will be transported to the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch […]
by Minka Kelly, Actress and IFAW Global Ambassador As a Global Ambassador for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), I’ve known for years that there are more tigers in captivity in the U.S. than remain free in the wild today. Hearing this stunning fact never fails to shock me. I’ve had the opportunity to […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.