Is global ocean sprawl a cause of jellyfish blooms?

Carlos M. Duarte*, Kylie A. Pitt, Cathy H. Lucas, Jennifer E. Purcell, Shin Ichi Uye, Kelly Robinson, Lucas Brotz, Mary Beth Decker, Kelly R. Sutherland, Alenka Malej, Laurence Madin, Hermes Mianzan, Josep Maria Gili, Veronica Fuentes, Dacha Atienza, Francesc Pages, Denise Breitburg, Jennafer Malek, William M. Graham, Robert H. Condon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

243 Scopus citations


Jellyfish (Cnidaria, Scyphozoa) blooms appear to be increasing in both intensity and frequency in many coastal areas worldwide, due to multiple hypothesized anthropogenic stressors. Here, we propose that the proliferation of artificial structures - associated with (1) the exponential growth in shipping, aquaculture, and other coastal industries, and (2) coastal protection (collectively, "ocean sprawl") - provides habitat for jellyfish polyps and may be an important driver of the global increase in jellyfish blooms. However, the habitat of the benthic polyps that commonly result in coastal jellyfish blooms has remained elusive, limiting our understanding of the drivers of these blooms. Support for the hypothesized role of ocean sprawl in promoting jellyfish blooms is provided by observations and experimental evidence demonstrating that jellyfish larvae settle in large numbers on artificial structures in coastal waters and develop into dense concentrations of jellyfish-producing polyps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-97
Number of pages7
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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