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Climate change spurring early birth of comb jellies in Narragansett Bay

December 5, 2010

Comb jelly (mnemiopsis leidyl)
    NARRAGANSETT—They do not pulse or sting, but they do glow. From Narragansett Bay to Argentina comb jellies shimmer with refracted light from their ever-moving bodies. And they can be spotted through the dark night waters as a result of bioluminescence. Comb jellies are a type of ctenophore (ten-o-for) and natural to Rhode Island’s waters. They are not dangerous to humans but their early reproduction cycles, which new studies show are a result of climate change, could affect the microscopic and fish life of Narragansett Bay. The jellies early births have encouraged researchers to learn more about this invertebrate’s life cycle in Rhode Island's waters.
    For years Professor John Costello and a squad of scientists have been studying the versatile and plankton-hungry comb jelly (Mnemiopsis leidyl), tracking its velocity and learning about the mechanical signals it uses to avoid predators. These brainless bulbs go with the flow, allowing currents to transport them around. Yet, how they avoid strong mixing waves and wind is still unknown.
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