As the world’s oceans warm, jellyfish “blooms” – large swarms of the gelatinous sea-dwellers – are becoming more common and widespread. To monitor their growth and movement, researchers are turning to drone cameras that can fly out over the water to track the behaviour and populations of these swarms in detail.
The picture above was taken by researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada, who had noticed that summer blooms of moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) in Pruth Bay, off Calvert Island, were on the rise. Concerned that the jellyfish could interfere with other marine populations – competing with salmon for food, for instance, and devouring herring larvae – they began using drones to capture high-quality imagery of the interlopers.
In addition to detailed behavioural information, the researchers have also been able to make an estimate of the total mass of jellyfish in the area: between 60 and 120 tonnes.