Jellyfish in the Bering Sea
What Are They Doing?
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 team will travel to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, which can be reached by commercial airlines. They will board the ship in Dutch Harbor and travel north to the eastern Bering Sea to conduct their research. Ship-board accommodations are shared staterooms.
Meet the Team
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 is a Biological Oceanographer and Ecologist specializing in the influence of ocean conditions on the distribution, abundance, and behavior of marine predators. She first became interested in oceanography and the behavior of marine organisms during a research expedition to the Galapagos Islands following her undergraduate work. While there, she was struck by how the oceanographic process, El Niño, reduced the productivity of the area, making it impossible for many marine birds to obtain sufficient food to raise their young. She has been studying the interplay of ocean variability and marine ecology ever since. Her research has taken her on many shipboard and field expeditions to places such as the Bering Sea, Prince William Sound, Svalbard, the Russian Arctic, and Chesapeake Bay. Much of her early work focused on marine birds in Alaska. More recently, Mary Beth has worked 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.