Giant jellyfish spotted

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Posted by on January 03, 2007 at 07:35:33:

This comb jellyfish considers the Atlantic coast of the USA its real home.

For the first time the giant comb jellyfish Mnemiopsis leidyi, known for devastating local marine food chains, has been spotted in Norwegian waters.

Hege Vestheim of the University of Oslo (UiO) observed and photographed the jellyfish off Tjøme in the autumn, and told newspaper Tønsbergs Blad that she saw large numbers of the feared creature.

"They were drifting on the surface everywhere," the researcher said. The Institute of Marine Research (IMR) has examined the photographs and confirmed the identification of the jellyfish, an invasive species which ravaged the ecosystem in the Caspian Sea beginning in 1999.

In the 1980s it was introduced to the Black Sea and caused damage to pelagic fish populations. It is not dangerous to humans.

"It is a predator that eats fry and competes for the same type of food that fish fry need," researcher Tone Falkenhaug of the IMR told Tønsbergs Blad.

"We do not fear the same kind of damage in Norwegian waters as it has done in the Black Sea. This is because we have a more robust ecosystem than in the Black Sea. We have predator jellyfish already, so we don't believe it will do as much damage," Falkenhaug said.

Falkenhaug said that the giant comb jellyfish is robust and can survive the conditions along the Norwegian coast, but prefers water temperatures of around 20C (68F).

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