Jellyfish carbon climate change natgeo

BCSS Research Featured in National Geographic Magazine Germany April 2021 issue

We are excited to share the April issue of National Geographic Magazine Germany

includes a four-page feature, including Dr. Mario Lebrato’s (BCSS Chief Scientist and Director) research project “Sinking of Gelatinous Zooplankton Biomass Increases Deep Carbon Transfer Efficiency Globally”. The magazine includes an infographic that explains how zooplankton and jellyfish bind carbon, crediting BCSS and Dr. Lebrato as the source. The research was first published in the AGU journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles and emphasizes the importance of gelatinous and transparent creatures to sink carbon (CO2) in the ocean, since these organisms have long been overlooked as sinking carbon.

Gelatinous plankton (jellyfish-like) aid the transfer of CO2 to the ocean’s interior

Gelatinous plankton are omni-present in plankton communities globally, linking primary production to both deep levels as well as higher, trophic levels of the ocean. They transfer so-called “jelly-carbon”, also known as “jelly-C”, upon bloom collapse. The jelly-C is transferred from the phytoplankton, which store carbon in their cells, to the jellyfish because the jellyfish consume phytoplankton directly. As the jellyfish then sink to the seabed of the deep ocean, so does the carbon. As the CO2 is transferred to the seabed, it is unable to return to the upper layers of the ocean and to the atmosphere. It is critical for CO2 to be stored at these depths, as high levels of carbon damage vital ecosystems located at shallower levels, like coral reefs.

“Nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to these underestimated and ignored animals – they have long been known to transfer huge amounts of carbon to depth.” – Dr. Mario Lebrato, as quoted in National Geographic Magazine Germany.

A finding of international scientific relevance
The ocean carbon balance is attained via various pathways, and the process of CO2 moving from upper trophic to lower levels through phytoplankton and later to the seabed trough jellyfish is one of them. The important find of this research by Dr. Lebrato is the novelty of gelatinous creatures acting as vectors of carbon to the deep ocean. This fact has never been recognized by the scientific community before. As the American Geophysical Union (AGU) published the research article and National Geographic featured the topic in their April 2021 issue, it shows how the international scientific community considers the finding relevant.

BCSS is currently in process of starting the first permanent Ocean Observatory in Africa, focused on multi-ecosystem time-series research. The research station studies carbon fluxes among various trophic web compartments, including gelatinous plankton, ensuring that this important research will continue to be conducted in the West Indian Ocean.

Click here to read the full research article published by AGU.

Click here to read the full article published by National Geographic.

For questions regarding the studies and scientific data mentioned in this article, please contact:
Dr. Mario Lebrato, Bazaruto Center for Scientific Studies
Mario.Lebrato@bcssmz.org

For questions about this article, please contact:
Iris Uijttewaal, Bazaruto Center for Scientific Studies
Iris.Uijttewaal@bcssmz.org
+44 7 882 030 249

Partners involved in this research are:
GEOMAR (Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel)
South Florida Water Management District
Christian‐Albrechts‐University Kiel (CAU)
Marine and Environmental Scientific and Technological Solutions (MAESTS)

What is BCSS
Host of the first permanent Ocean Observatory focused on multi-ecosystem time series research in Africa, the Bazaruto Center for Scientific Studies (BCSS) was established in 2017 as in independent, non-profit organisation with a mission to protect and support the fragile ecosystems of the Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique. The research station is located on Benguerra Island, off the coast of Mozambique.
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