Coral Seas: Secret Cities of the Sea

So last week, I went up to London for two reasons. The Natural History Museum has an exhibit on titled Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea and the London Aquarium had a conservation evening. I was intrigued by both events, of course. But I was absolutely blown away by the coral reef exhibit.

Coral Reef

Coral Reef

The Coral Reef exhibit was amazing! In total we spend about two hours in the exhibit looking at coral and fish specimens. Some of the collections on display were collected by Charles Darwin including some of his notebooks from when he was mapping and collecting samples on HMS Beagle. The information was clear and it was laid out in an accessible manner. One of the cool features they had was the Catlin Seaview Survery (http://catlinseaviewsurvey.com/) equipment and screen with the stitched together photos of different locations they have carried out around the world. It was amazing to see and I recommend a trip to anyone that can get there before September.

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Jellyfish

So, around this time of year I get excited because jellyfish turn up in our waters. Also after watching the moon jellies being feed on a live stream from the Aquarium of the Pacific it was time for a jelly fish blog.

During summer jellyfish begin making an appearance around the coast of the UK. Last year a few popped up and I think I saw like two.  This year however, the number seems to have increased, massively. I have found quite a few washed up on the beach unfortunately deceased. Also, I have been in the water searching for them, with no luck yet.

I have been receiving a lot of questions in regards to the jellies as well, which is always fun telling people about.

So, the most common jellyfish that is washing up and being seen at the moment is the Barrel Jellyfish (Rhizostoma pulmo). A very impressive invertebrate.

Barrel jellyfish

Barrel jellyfish

The barrel jellyfish is the largest jellyfish found in UK waters, reaching a diameter of 90cms, about the size of a dustbin lid. It is not the only one found here however; the sting on this jellyfish is too weak to harm humans. Jellyfish are known as planktivores meaning they filter feed on tiny animals within the water column plankton. Those tiny animals are collectively referred to as plankton.  They swarm when food is plentiful which is summer and autumn the plankton will bloom due to favourable environmental conditions. During winter they inhabit deeper waters.

Jellyfish that have a more powerful stings are also starting to make an appearance. So keep your eyes peeled and don’t touch!