Coral eating jellyfish discovery

Coral eating jellyfish, photo by Omri Bronstein

From the BBC:

Predatory coral eats jellyfish

By Jody Bourton
Earth News reporter

A coral is recorded eating a jellyfish for the first time, in intriguing photographs taken by scientists.

Coral usually feed on tiny plankton as well as products provided by photosynthetic algae.

Yet the photos reveal a stationary mushroom coral sucking in a large moon jellyfish.

Researchers believe the ability to feed on a variety of food sources like jellyfish may give the coral an advantage in a changing world.

The researchers publish their findings in the journal Coral Reefs.

Coral surprise

The pictures were taken on a dive by Mr Omri Bronstein from Tel Aviv University in Israel and Mr Gal Dishon from Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel in March 2009 during a survey on reefs near the Israeli city of Eilat in the Red Sea.

Ocean currents and nutrients had created a seasonal bloom of the jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) and many surrounded the reef in which the team were diving.

It was then they saw the strange behaviour.

“During the survey we were amazed to notice some mushroom corals actively feeding on the moon jellyfish,” says Ada Alamaru, a member of the research team who is doing her PhD in marine biology at Tel Aviv University, Israel.

“We couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw it,” Ms Alamaru says.

The moon jellyfish is known to be eaten by a number of predators including fish, turtles and sea birds.

However, to find it preyed upon by the mushroom coral (Fungia scruposa) was a unique discovery.

“This is the first documentation of a coral feeding on a jellyfish almost equal to its size,” Ms Alamaru says.

“In fact we saw a few corals feeding and not only one.”

Sponges recycle carbon to give life to coral reefs: here.

Jellyfish swarm northward in warming world: here.

“Pink Meanie” Jellyfish Attacks Other Jellies: here.

England: A small group of divers and marine biologists, led by Steve Trewhella, have started a survey in Kimmeridge Bay to assess the stalked jellyfish population: here.

October 2011. Kent Wildlife Trust’s Marine Officer, Becky Hitchin, made an exciting discovery on the shores of Thanet – a significant breeding population of rare stalked jellyfish: here.

Doha, Qatar, 21 March 2010 – Governments participating in the United Nations’ species trade convention voted today against implementing better protection for red and pink coral, which are being overharvested to supply the international jewellery trade: here.

7 thoughts on “Coral eating jellyfish discovery

  1. Stretched military halts cleanup of Fla. tire reef
    Posted: Feb 10, 2010 9:27 PM Updated: Feb 10, 2010 10:47 PM
    Associated Press Writer

    WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) – Military divers are being pulled off a project to clean up an artificial reef off the coast of Florida that turned into an environmental disaster.

    The divers have spent the last three summers pulling up thousands of tires a mile off the beach at Fort Lauderdale.

    Hundreds of thousands were sunk there in 1972 in hopes they would turn into a coral reef. But nothing grew and they became scattered across the ocean floor, damaging real coral reefs.

    The military began cleaning up the tires as a training exercise at no cost to the state.

    But now a Pentagon official says the diving crews are being stretched too thin by two wars and helping repair port facilities damaged by the earthquake in Haiti.

    The earliest the cleanup could continue is 2012.

    Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.


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