Nereus Alumnus Natasha Henschke (Princeton University) is currently at sea on the RV Investigator, sailing off the East Australian coast. She is working as the deputy chief scientist, helping to collect data that will allow, for the first time, the relationship between open ocean production and coastal fisheries off south eastern Australia to be established. The voyage will be used to study the Tasman Sea ecosystem and examine the link between plankton and fisheries in the region.
Compared to historical times, there has been an increase in the frequency of reportings of jellyfish sightings in coastal waters. Based on a few regional case studies, many have gathered that jellyfish population sizes are exploding due to warming waters. However, there are not a lot of datasets to support this. Natasha Henschke addressed this topic in her research completed during her fellowship with the Nereus Program.
The ten most popular stories on the Nereus Program website in 2016, including on El Ninos, fishing subsidies, Brexit, science fiction prototyping, the TPP, salps, jellyfish fisheries, vaquita and the South China Sea.
‘Aliens’, ‘jelly-balls’, ‘globs’, ‘buckets of snot’, and ‘sea-walnuts’. These are the names media have used to describe salps, as mentioned by Nereus Fellow Natasha Henschke, Princeton University, in her recently published paper “Rethinking the Roles of Salps in the Ocean”.
Salps, a type of gelatinous zooplankton, are often confused with jellyfish and while jellyfish research has increased drastically, salps have been ignored. The authors write that there “has been no comprehensive study on the biology or ecological impact of salps in almost 20 years”. This paper looks at four misconceptions about salps, including that salps are jellyfish, salps are rare, salps are trophic dead ends, and salps have a minor role in biogeochemical cycles.