Overview

Brief Summary

Stomolophus meleagris, otherwise known as the cannonball jellyfish, is a species of jellyfish that resembles a cannonball in both shape and size. It has oral arms underneath its body that extend out around the mouth. This species feeds mainly on zooplankton and has a symbiotic relationship with the portly spider crab, which also feeds on zooplankton. Like most cnidarians, the cannonball jellyfish can reproduce both sexually and asexually.

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Distribution

'Stomolophus is usually described as the most abundant scyphozoan in the Gulf, particularly in the late summer and fall when it 'swarms' around inlet passes.' (Rountree 1983)

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Physical Description

Size

Dome-shaped bell can be up to 25 cm (10 inches) in diameter.

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Ecology

Habitat

Depth range based on 13 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 9 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 128
  Temperature range (°C): 18.920 - 26.658
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.325 - 6.247
  Salinity (PPS): 35.209 - 36.499
  Oxygen (ml/l): 3.418 - 4.870
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.085 - 0.636
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.756 - 4.097

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 128

Temperature range (°C): 18.920 - 26.658

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.325 - 6.247

Salinity (PPS): 35.209 - 36.499

Oxygen (ml/l): 3.418 - 4.870

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.085 - 0.636

Silicate (umol/l): 0.756 - 4.097
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Trophic Strategy

Feed on zooplankton and red drum larvae.

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General Ecology

Ecology

'The scyphozoan Stomolophus meleagris , when disturbed (held in a container), discharges a sticky mucus. Toxins released into the mucus and water kill some fish and crustaceans and can immediately alter fish behavior, but did not affect a crab predator of S. meleagris . The mucus contains discharged and undischarged nematocysts. The toxins in the mucus are probably associated with these nematocysts.' (Oldendorf 1988)

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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

'After swimming actively for 2-5 days, the ciliated planula larvae settled and scyphistoma morphogenesis occurred. Fully developed scyphistomae were cone-shaped and bore a whorl of about 16 tentacles around a dome- or knob-shaped proboscis. Podocyst formation was the only observed method of asexual reproduction in cultures of scyphistomae maintained for one month. Strobilation began as soon as nine days after scyphistoma morphogenesis and occurred in scyphistomae with as few as eight tentacles... Most strobilae produced two ephyrae each, although the number varied from one to three. Some scyphistomae began to strobilate a second time within a week after completion of an initial round of strobilation.' (Calder 1982)

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Uses

'A pilot plant process was developed to produce salted dried jellyfish product from cannonball jellyfish (Stomolophus meleagris). Processed products containing an average of 68% moisture, 5.5% protein, 26% ash and 25% salt were obtained by brining with different mixtures of salt (7.5–25%) and alum (1–2.5%) over 1 wk. Mechanical drying was also tested by using a heat pump system dryer. Chemical and physical analyses and sensory properties of cannonball jellyfish products compared favorably with market products. Levels of calcium, magnesium and iron in the jellyfish were higher than those of zinc and copper.' (Huang 2006)

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Wikipedia

Cannonball jellyfish

The cannonball jellyfish (Stomolophus meleagris), also known as the cabbage head jellyfish, is a species of jellyfish in the family Stomolophidae. Its common name derives from its similarity to a cannonball in shape and size. Its dome-shaped bell can reach 25 cm (10 inches) in diameter and the rim is sometimes colored with brown pigment. Underneath of the body is a cluster of oral arms that extend out around the mouth. These arms function as a way of propulsion and aid in catching prey.[2] Cannonballs are prominent from North America's eastern seaboard all the way to Brazil, but are also found in parts of the Pacific.

Habitat[edit]

A cannonball jellyfish in the water near Dog Island, Florida, in the United States

Cannonballs live in warm, estuarian waters, with an average temperature of 23.1 °C (73.6 °F) and average salinities of 33.8 ppt (parts per thousand).[3]

They have been found in the northwest and east-central Pacific Ocean (South China Sea to Sea of Japan, and California to Ecuador) and the mid-west Atlantic Ocean (New England to Brazil).[4] They are common on the southeastern coast of the United States, including the Gulf Coast. On the southeast coast they are extremely abundant in the fall and summer months. During these months, cannonballs make up over 16% of the biomass in the shallow inshore areas.[5]

Diet[edit]

Cannonballs eat mainly zooplankton such as veligers, and also all forms of red drum larvae. They have a symbiotic relationship with the portly spider crab, which also eats the small zooplankton. The crab feeds on the prey captured by the cannonball and also on the medusae of the jellyfish.[4]

Reproduction[edit]

As in most cnidarians sexual reproduction is not an imperative way for cannonballs to reproduce. They can reproduce both sexually and asexually.[6]

During sexual reproduction, cannonballs shoot sperm out of their mouth. The sperm are then caught by another cannonball through the mouth and fertilization happens. The embryo begins to develop in specialized pouches found on the arms around the mouth. After about 3-5 hours the larvae fall to the bottom and attach themselves to a hard structure. There they develop into polyps and catch small prey that swims by. After several days the polyp will detach and become a swimming ephyra, and will eventually turn into an adult jellyfish.[7]

Toxin[edit]

When disrupted the cannonball secretes a mucus out of its nematocyst that contains a toxin. The toxin harms small fish in the immediate area, and drives away most predators, except for certain types of crabs.[8] Although cannonballs do not commonly sting humans, it still has toxins which can cause cardiac problems in animals and humans. The toxin causes irregular heart rhythms and problems in the myocardial conduction pathways. Such complications are associated also with toxins of other cnidaria.[9] The toxin is also harmful to the eyes, when the nematocyst comes in contact with eyes it is very painful and is followed with redness and swelling.

Predators[edit]

One of the main predators of cannonball jellyfish is the endangered species leatherback sea turtle. When leatherbacks migrate north from the Caribbean from April to early summer they feed on the cannonballs. Cannonballs are a main source of food for the leatherbacks, so conservation of cannonball jellyfish is important to the survival of the leatherbacks.[10]

Cannonball jellyfish are commercially harvested as food for humans.[11][12]

Commercial fishing[edit]

Georgia jellyfish are dried, preserved and packaged before being sold to a seafood distributor that ships them to Japan, China and Thailand.

Along the coast of the southern U.S. state of Georgia, jellyfish are a valuable export, which end up on dining tables across Asia. The jellyfish are dried, preserved and packaged before being sold to a seafood distributor that ships them to Japan, China, and Thailand.

Jellyball (as they are known locally) fishing is Georgia’s third largest commercial fishery — after shrimp and crabs — but only five boats are permitted to catch them. [13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Agassiz, Louis (1860). Contributions to the natural history of the United States of America. Vol. 3. Boston: Little Brown and Co. p. 301. 
  2. ^ "Cannonball Jellyfish". Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  3. ^ Griffin, Dubose B.; Murphy, Thomas M. "Cannonball Jellyfish". Retrieved 2008-11-17. 
  4. ^ a b DuBose B. Griffin. Cannonball Jellyfish (PDF). South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  5. ^ SHALLOW WATER TRAWL SURVEY, SEMAP-SA. "Results of the Trawling Efforts in the Coastal Habitat of the South Atlantic Bight". SEAMAP-SA: 72. Retrieved 2008-11-03. 
  6. ^ Daphne Gail Fautin (2002). "Reproduction of Cnidaria". Canadian Journal of Zoology 80 (10): 1735–1754. doi:10.1139/z02-133. 
  7. ^ Whitaker, J. David; King, Dr. Rachael; Knott, David. "Jellyfish". Marine Resources Division. Retrieved 2008-11-17. 
  8. ^ Shanks, AL; Graham, WM (1988). "Chemical defense in a scyphomedusa.". Pro Quest. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 
  9. ^ Toom, PM; Larsen, JB; Chan, DS; Pepper, DA; Price, W. "Cardiac effects of Stomolophus meleagris (cabbage head jellyfish) toxin.". Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  10. ^ Murphy, Sally; Murphy, Tom. "Leatherback Turtles". Retrieved 2009-01-30. 
  11. ^ Jellyfish#Culinary_uses
  12. ^ Hsieh, Y-H. Peggy; Leong, Fui-Ming; Rudloe, Jack. "Jellyfish as food". Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  13. ^ "US Jellyfish Land on Asian Dinner Tables". Retrieved 2012-03-28. 

This article incorporates public domain text from the Voice of America, at http://www.voanews.com/english/news/usa/US-Jellyfish-Land-on-Asian-Dinner-Tables-143681576.html

Further reading[edit]

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