If you have been to the beach or out on a boat recently you have probably encountered a jelly or two, perhaps even more. This is the time of year that jellies are most prevalent in the mid-atlantic region. So why do we see so many of them during the summer??
Jellies are found in most bodies of water, including the Atlantic Ocean, the Chesapeake Bay, and even in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. In fact, some Aquarium employees saw a bunch of comb jellies in the harbor earlier this morning. In this region, most jellies are seasonal. The greatest variety of jellies are found in the lower bay, in the coastal bays and, offshore in the Atlantic Ocean were salinities are higher. Some of the more common species include:
- Moon Jellies, (pictured to the right) found in the Lower Bay and Atlantic Ocean. In the summer months the remains of moon jellies can often be found washed up on the beaches, but they rarely sting people.
- Atlantic Sea Nettles, found in the middle and lower bay and seen in late spring, summer and early fall and the most likely to sting you. They sting thousands of beach-goers each season!
- Comb Jellies, found throughout the bay and ocean year-round but most commonly seen in the warmer months. Comb jellies do not have the ability to sting.
- Lion’s Mane Jellies, found in the bay from late November through May, also known as the winter jelly and also deliver a powerful sting.
Continue reading ‘Jellies, jellies everywhere’
The water in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is giving off a very fishy odor. Wondering why? If nutrient levels are high enough, warming waters can sustain increased numbers of microscopic plants or algae. Nutrient runoff from our recent spring rains fueled a brown algae bloom in the inner harbor giving the water a mahogany color last week. Algae has a short life span, and as it dies oxygen is consumed and is no longer available for other organisms in the water column. At this point, fish and other animals that cannot escape the low oxygen zones die. These are commonly referred to as “dead zones” which cause fish kills, and the bad smell over the weekend. The bacteria then devours the dead fish killed by oxygen depletion, fueling more bad odors.
Some animals, like jellies require very little oxygen and manage to live through these dead zone events. This is part of the reason jellies populations are thriving in bodies of water around the world.
These excess nutrients that cause the algae blooms can come from a variety of sources including fertilizer, storm water runoff, and even atmospheric deposition. So what can be done about it? The National Aquarium is actively working to improve the water quality of the Bay by restoring vital habitats like tidal wetlands. These habitats remove excess nutrients, help prevent flooding and provide important habitat to the animals that live there. You can volunteer – check it out!