Hot off the press releases, The Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama is reporting the presence of the jelly Phyllorhiza punctata in Gulf of Mexico waters.
"first reported in great quantities in the Gulf of Mexico in 2000, has made a vigorous reappearance this summer in waters from southwestern Louisiana to Morehead City, North Carolina."-ScienceDailyPhyllorhiza punctata is originally from Australia and is hypothesized to have came through the Panama Canal about 50 years ago. Though the medusa stage is the nuisance (fouls trawl nets and consumes eggs and larvae of commercially important fish), it is the polyp stage that needs to be targeted for removal. A single polyp can bud off dozens of jellies in a single event and live for a long time, thus resulting in potentially hundreds of medusae over its lifetime. Yet, virtually nothing is known about the polyp stage of Phyllorhiza punctata because of its small size and unknown habitat. They are also very prolific comsumers. Dauphin Island Sea Lab Senior Marine Scientist Dr. Monty Graham states that,
"...they can compete with commercially important fish for food, and they also eat the larvae of these fish. In their native waters, they tend to be fist-sized; here in the Gulf, they can be a big as dinner plates."-ScienceDailyThe Dauphin Island Sea Lab is asking for your help. If you live in coastal Gulf of Mexico or Mid-Atlantic states and sight this jelly, you can report it at a website called DockWatch and follow these instructions to aid them in understanding of this invasion.
"What can people do now? The most important response is to provide scientists with information when Phyllorhiza is observed. This DockWatch web site is just one way to let us know when and where you saw a jellyfish[sic] (not just Phyllorhiza, but all jellyfish[sic]). People can also call us at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab using a direct line to a recorded message (251-861-2289). Also, Dauphin Island Sea Lab scientists need tissue samples of Phyllorhiza. Since the jellyfish[sic] does not have a painful sting, it is easy to collect the jellyfish[sic] into a large zip-lock baggie and freeze it until it can be picked up by one of our scientists. If the whole animal cannot fit into a baggie, then taking a slice of the animal will suffice. Be sure to freeze it right away and call or submit your information using the web site."-DockWatch