Recruitment Potential of Sea Nettle(Chrysaora quinquecirrha) Polyps Around Natural and Artificial Substrates in Mobile Bay
William M. Graham and Kenneth L. Heck, Jr.
Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Dauphin Island AL 36528
The nuisance 'sea nettle' jellyfish, Chrysaora quinquecirrha, has dramatically increased in seasonality, range and numbers around the coastal and estuarine waters of Alabama since 1991.  One possible contributing factor to this sudden change may be increased availability of habitat for the benthic polyp stage of the species; and, the availability may be in the form of naturally occurring or artificially planted oyster shell designed to enhance oyster recruitment. Given that regular summertime sea nettle infestations are a threat to Alabama's >$1 billion fishing and tourism industries, we propose a modest 14 month study to begin studying how human-related activities may be changing the Mobile Bay estuarine ecosystem structure and function. This proposed study will investigate both polyp distribution around the Bay and the dynamics of polyp settlement around naturally occurring, planted and proposed planting locations in the Mobile Bay estuary. This Small Grant for Exploratory Research (SGER) request to ACES will stimulate future proposal submissions to conduct field and laboratory experimentation on the sea nettle polyp population of Mobile Bay.