Invasion Smack-down, We Hope

Australian spotted jellyfish in the IRL (c)

Australian spotted jellyfish in the IRL (c)

The St. Johns River Water Management District is circulating a warning of recent sightings of invasive Australian spotted jellyfish in the Indian River Lagoon near the Eau Gallie River. The first reported sightings of the spotted invaders came in the 2001 and 2002 seasons with no further jellies seen in the interim until just last week. The Indian River Lagoon Program’s staff is concerned about their presence in IRL waters as this species is a voracious consumer of plankton and fish eggs.

The Aussie invaders are quite large – roughly the size of a basketball. Just two native lagoon jellies approach this size: the familiar moon jellyfish and the cannonball jelly. Confusion over identification of these animals is a bit unlikely and SJRWMD staff are asking that the public specifically reports any sightings of spotted jellyfish to their staff with information on the date, time, location, and number of jellies seen in order to track the current outbreak. (If you would like contact information please feel free to email me; I feel a bit funny about posting SJRWMD staff emails to WaterNotes.)

PS: Yes, a group of jellyfish are often known as a “swarm” or a “smack”.