Deep-Sea Stress

Bad day? If you’re a Jellyfish, WATER you gonna do about it?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Yes, even deep-sea jellyfish get stressed out!

Their habitats are changing. Buried sediments are getting stirred up from the ocean floor by deep-sea mineral mining. On top of that, ocean temperatures are rising due to climate change. How bad can this be for our little jelly friends?

Vanessa Stenvers, Helena Hauss, and team from Germany investigated.

They collected sixty-four deep-sea jellyfish and exposed them to conditions mimicking these changes. They varied water temperature and sediment concentrations in the jellyfish enclosure. Meanwhile, they monitored jellyfish health by testing the water and their tissue for stress indicators.

Turns out, just a four degree temperature increase forces jellyfish to burn energy unsustainably fast. Increased sediment exposure caused the jellyfish to produce more mucus and initiate immune responses.

Studying human impact on ocean habitats could help create guidelines that keep seafloor critters stress-free.

Hopefully reducing mining will turn these stressed jellyfish into JOLLY-fish!

Reference: Stenvers, V.I., Hauss, H., Bayer, T. et al. Experimental mining plumes and ocean warming trigger stress in a deep pelagic jellyfish. Nat Commun 14, 7352 (2023).