Long-term changes in jellyfish abundance may be an answer to the effects of concentrated fishing along the coast, nutrient enrichment of local waters, or a combination of the two. This succession of events has happened in other bodies of water, such as the Black Sea. There are numerous major rivers carrying nutrients from land run-off to the northern Gulf of Mexico. This nutrient-enrichment of coastal waters could be positive for increases in jellyfish numbers. If jellyfish abundance is linked to intense fishing and/or nutrient enrichment, it could be viewed as a pointer for changes in the local ecosystem. In this case, some predictions could be made about what could occur in local waters in view to future abundances of jellyfish, local fish species, crabs, and shrimp, and the overall functional ecology of the northern Gulf of Mexico.
Even though scientists recognize the long-term effects these potentially nuisance species have on the ecosystem, they know little about bloom development and movement. Scientists are not positive how exotic, tropical species arrived in the northern Gulf of Mexico or how they reproduce in coastal Gulf waters.
Humans inadvertently may be source jellyfish population to increase. Several studies in temperate and sub-Arctic waters have shown an association of greater jellyfish abundances with warmer temperatures. Scientists have the same opinion that burning of fossil fuels adds to the marked warming trend in the Earth’s climate in recent decades. Thus, jellyfish populations may boost with global warming.
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