Jellyfish in the Bering Sea

What Are They Doing?

Photo by Misty Nikula-OhlsenA jellyfish on the beach near Barrow, Alaska. Photo by Misty Nikula-Ohlsen. There is public perception that jellyfish populations are increasing on a global scale. While this may be true for some areas, in the eastern Bering Sea, jellyfish populations have fluctuated dramatically during the past three decades.

This project will estimate the age structure and age-specific abundances of the predominant jellyfish in the Bering Sea, Chrysaora melanaster, in order to understand how their population size changes with time. The ultimate goal is to estimate the reproductive capacity and success of this jellyfish in relation to climate variability and to investigate the potential for jellyfish population increases to become a recurring pattern in the Bering Sea under future climate scenarios. In the Bering Sea ecosystem, key questions are whether increases in jellyfish abundance are a recurring phenomenon under climate change and fishing pressure and how these population increases affect ecosystem structure.

Where Are They?

The R/V Oceanus. The team will conduct their work aloard the R/V Oceanus in the southeastern Bering Sea.

Expedition Map


Research equipment
"Good data come with lots of effort," was how Hongsheng Bi, Principal Investigator, summed up Day One of logistical planning for the Jellyfish in the Bering Sea expeditions. The research will be conducted in two field seasons, beginning with this year's cruises to the Bering Sea. The first one is scheduled for 27 May - 2 June, and the second one is slated for 29 July - 4 August, 2017. There will be two more cruises next year. Mary Beth Decker, Hongsheng Bi and the rest of the team examine equipment. Ben and Suzan discuss the ARIS1800. Present at the scenic campus of the Chesapeake...
Arctic ground squirrel
Sea slugs beached on the west coast of the Florida peninsula. Salted jellyfish add a rubbery texture to a stir fry. A list of directions to get the video to play online. These were some of the images and experiences painted for me by a few of the 2017 PolarTREC participants during the short drive to the University of Alaska, Fairbanks this morning. The stories, experiences, assignments and wise words from my fellow teachers, PolarTREC staff and alumni weave together both practical know-how and boosts of encouragement as we embark on our PolarTREC journeys. It starts with the Introductions...
Alaska Mountain Range
Spoon out the joy of winning the lottery. Blend in how it feels to be recognized for work well done. Add the excitement of seeing your favorite band and stir. The mixture of all these emotions barely approximates the sheer exuberance of learning I was selected to participate in PolarTREC this year. An achievement so much desired was finally becoming real. The opportunity to be part of a research team in the Arctic was taking shape. After this initial exhilaration somewhat subsided, I centered my thoughts and began to ponder the responsibilities that this opportunity entails. I reread the...

Project Information

28 July 2017 to 5 August 2017
Location: R/V Oceanus, Eastern Bering Sea
Project Funded Title: Demographic structure and recruitment patterns of the scyphozoan, Chrysaora melanaster, in the Bering Sea: the influence of climate on ecosystem function

Meet the Team

Lenore Teevan's picture
Booker T. Washington High School
Norfolk, VA
United States

Growing up in a small town in Ohio, Lenore Teevan biked all over the countryside and wandered the creeks and forests there. Her love of nature and travel has led her to explore places as far as West Africa, as a Peace Corps volunteer, and Japan, as an English teacher. Currently, Ms. Teevan teaches Earth Science and Oceanography at Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, Virginia. In addition, she samples water from the Chesapeake Bay as a member of NOAA’s Phytoplankton Monitoring Network. Being able to actively engage in relevant scientific research and inquiry is what motivated her to apply to PolarTREC. Ms. Teevan is looking forward to participating in Arctic research so that she can share a deeper understanding of scientific inquiry with her high school students. She hopes that her firsthand accounts will allow others to view what is involved in ongoing research at sea. She envisions lighting a spark to inspire and motivate her students to pursue university studies and careers in science. Outside of the classroom, Ms. Teevan trains in karate and jiu-jitsu and cycles whenever she can.

Mary Beth Decker's picture
Yale University
New Haven, CT
United States

Mary Beth Decker is a Biological Oceanographer and Ecologist specializing in the influence of ocean conditions on the distribution, abundance, and behavior of marine predators. Mary Beth works on plankton-consuming predators of the Bering Sea ecosystem, in particular jellyfish and forage fish. She is particularly interested in how climate variability influences jellyfish populations, and how jellyfish blooms in turn affect food webs via predation and competition. She teaches three courses at Yale: Biological Oceanography, Coastal Ecosystems in a Changing World, and Caribbean Coastal Development.

Hongsheng Bi's picture
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Solomons, MD
United States

Hongsheng Bi is a Biological Oceanographer specializing in the fine-scale spatial distributions of different marine organisms and their trophic interactions. Hongsheng deploys advanced optical and high-resolution sonar imaging systems to quantify the spatial distributions and overlap of plankton, forage fish and jellyfish. He is particularly interested in how jellyfish affect the spatial and temporal dynamics forage species. Hongsheng’s group operates a towed zooplankton imaging system (PlanktonScope), two adaptive resolution imaging sonar (ARIS) systems and a time-resolved Tomographic Particle Image Velocimetry at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

Subscribe To Journals!


Latest Comments

Thank you for your kind words and all your help this week, Lisa!
You are so on your way! I'm looking forward to following you on the R/V Sikuliaq, to hear about the awesome jellyfish you'll be studying, but to also figure out what life will be like on the...
Thanks for your post, Cara. Please have your students send questions! Best, Lee
Thanks, Rebecca! I can't wait to hear about your adventures!
Hi Lenore! I am a 2016 Cohort member. I look forward to reading your journals and sharing your experiences with my students. I teach a marine science and a zoology class. And expedition based on...