Jellyfish sleep, shark-sucking bots, mole crab parasites, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: September 25, 2017

Fog Horn (A Call to Action)

  • The fight for our Marine National Monuments isn’t over. We now know of the contents of Zincke’s monument review memo, and it is not good. The DOI wants to see commercial fishing return to the Pacific Remote Islands and Rose Atoll Marine National Monuments. Longline fishing in these regions has historically been conducted by foreign fishing fleets which have been documented using slave labor. Many ecologists believe that maintaining these protected zones serve as a refuge that boost populations of many important commercial fish and improve the overall health of the fishery. Any change to monuments created under the Antiquities Act must be approved by congress. You’ve got a lot of reason to call you representatives this week, so why not add “I opposed the reintroduction of ecologically and economically destructive commercial fishing to the Pacific Remote Islands and Rose Atoll Marine National Monument.” to your script?

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

Palmyra Atoll. Erik Oberg/Island Conservation/Flickr

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One-eyed sea eagles, deep reefs, crispy jellyfish, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: August 7, 2017.

Fog Horn (A Call to Action)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

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Bony-eared assfish, shark swarms, ocean plastics, and more! The Monday Morning Salvage: May 15, 2017

Fog Horn (A Call to Action)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

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#TaxonomyFail: Salps, Jellyfish, and the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant

I’m a bit late to the party, but last week, several news outlets reported that the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant was taken offline by “jellyfish-like creatures” that clogged several cooling intakes. While most sources were careful to point out that these were “jellyfish-like” organisms, some secondary sources truncated the description and announced that “Nuclear Power Plant Knocked Offline By Tiny Jellyfish, The Invasion Has Begun”. Unfortunately, these organisms are salps, not jellyfish, and you’d be more correct to describe them as human-like rather than jellyfish-like.

Salps, photo by Lars Plougmann

Salps, photo by Lars Plougmann

Salps are free-swimming pelagic tunicates, one of the most basal members of the chordate phylum. While they superficially resemble jellies to the untrained eye, they are far more derived, possessing three tissue layers (compared to the jelly’s two), a primitive, larval notochord, a perforated pharynx, and the rudimentary beginnings of a centralized nervous system. They form large, clonal colonies that are able to take advantage of plankton blooms by rapidly producing more clones to capitalize on an unpredicatable food source. Although I don’t have first hand reports, this is likely what happened in Diablo Canyon, as warm water discharges from nuclear power plants can trigger massive plankton blooms. Far from a “jellyfish invasion”, this was probably the natural response of a predator to increased food availability.

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