Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘invasive species’

Emergence of Clinging Jellyfish in New Jersey’s Coastal Waters

Monday, June 27th, 2016
Invasive Species reported in the Shrewsbury and Manasquan Rivers along with Barnegat Bay

by Corrine Henn, Program Coordinator

Clinging Jellyfish photo by Dann Blackwood, U.S. Geologoical Survey, Woods Hole

Clinging Jellyfish photo by Dann Blackwood, U.S. Geologoical Survey, Woods Hole

The presence of the clinging jellyfish off the New Jersey coast has been stirring up quite the commotion lately. Dr. Bologna, a biologist and ecologist at Montclair State University, confirmed the identity of the Gonionemus vertens. Distinguished from other species by the distinctive red, orange or violet X-like marking on their pad, Gonionemus vertens is often no larger than the size of a dime.

 

An invasive species from the Pacific Ocean, there have been reported sightings of the introduced jellyfish in Southern California, Massachusetts, Europe and the Mediterranean Sea for the greater part of the last 100 years.

 

This relatively small species was given the nickname due its ability to, quite literally, cling onto eelgrass and other shallow-water flora when at rest using the pads on their tentacles. Typically harmless, this unique trait keeps the jellyfish away from the sandy beaches of the New Jersey shore, preferring calmer, quieter back bays and rivers.

 

Sightings to date have been reported in the Shrewsbury and Manasquan Rivers along with Barnegat Bay, but the reach of their presence has yet to be determined. Biologists are working diligently to confirm the status of the jellyfish by trawling a number of New Jersey waters over the next 30 days. They also hope to gather vital information regarding their life cycle, including where the polyps are settling.

 

Although the arrival of the Gonionemus vertens should not be ignored, it’s important to keep in mind beachgoers are unlikely to encounter the species. However, if you or someone you know has been stung, there are a number of steps that can be taken for preventative care:

  • Wearing gloves, white vinegar may be used to remove any remaining tentacles.
  • Rinse the area with salt water.
  • Apply a hot compress to the area.
  • Contact your doctor, or seek immediate medical assistance if necessary.

 

Learn More:

 

Corrine Henn is a Program Coordinator for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

 

New Jersey’s Field Guide to Freshwater Mussels is Here!

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015
CONSERVE WILDLIFE FOUNDATION OF NEW JERSEY RELEASE A NEW STORY MAP: “FRESHWATER MUSSELS OF NEW JERSEY

By Michael Davenport, GIS Program Manager

Freshwater mussels are distant relatives of marine mussels with a life cycle which includes a larval stage where they hitch a ride on fish as a parasite. There are a dozen species native to New Jersey and some species are known to live for over 100 years. This is an often overlooked group of species which deserves greater attention since many species are imperiled and because they are indicator species of water quality.

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) has partnered with the NJ Endangered and Nongame Species Program to create and release our latest Story Map, “Freshwater Mussels of New Jersey.”

Musselscreenshot

This Story Map is a web-based field guide to New Jersey’s freshwater mussel species. The field guide explores the diversity of this group of species, how to identify them, their life history, threats and conservation measures, as well as providing range maps for each species. This is the only freshwater mussel field guide specific to the state of New Jersey and developed by state biologists.

Photos and interactive range maps are available for all 12 of New Jersey’s native species as well as several non-native species found within the state. Several short videos are also included which demonstrate different methods of surveying for freshwater mussels.

Funding for the creation of this Story Map was provided in part through a New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife grant.

Witness to a New Species’ Invasion

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013
A NON-NATIVE FRESHWATER MUSSEL MAY BE INVADING NJ WATERS

By Michael Davenport, Marine Species & GIS Programs Manager

In 2010, a non-native freshwater mussel species was discovered in Hunterdon County, NJ – the Chinese pond mussel (Sinanodonta woodiana, previously referred to as Anodonta woodiana).  Not only was it the first time found in New Jersey, but it was the first documented occurrence within the entire US.

A Chinese pond mussel.  Photo by Mike Davenport.

A Chinese pond mussel. Photo by Mike Davenport.

The Chinese pond mussel is native to eastern Asia.  It is a large freshwater mussel, reaching a size of almost 1-foot across; which makes it the largest species now in New Jersey.  New Jersey is home to 12 native species of freshwater mussel – you can learn more about their distribution on Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s freshwater mussel page.  Additional non-native freshwater mollusks include the Asian clam and paper pondshell.

The Chinese pond mussels discovered in New Jersey have thus far only been found within the ponds of an abandoned fish farm and an adjacent stream.  They were most likely introduced by accident as “hitchhikers” on the Asian carp being farmed within the ponds (young mussels, known as glochidia, are parasites on fish and a few other aquatic vertebrates).  The non-native mussels thrived within the ponds.

Non-native mussels are a threat to native mussels because they compete with them for space and food.  Out of 12 native species in New Jersey, 9 of those are classified as Endangered, Threatened, or Special Concern.  The addition of the new potential threat of another invasive species is a great concern for the recovery of those 9 species.

The ponds where the mussels were found were treated with the chemical rotenone, which eradicated the non-native carp as well as most of the mussels.  A survey by staff from the NJ Endangered & Non-game Species Program and CWF earlier this year, however, confirmed that the mussels are still within the ponds, although their numbers have been greatly reduced.  The mussels could no longer be found in portions of the stream downstream of the ponds where they had been found in 2010.  This is significant because the stream drains into the Delaware River.  If the mussels were able to expand their distribution into the Delaware, opportunities to control their spread and establishment in the river would be much more difficult if not impossible.

Although most experts aren’t certain of the full potential magnitude of a Chinese pond mussel invasion, we’re in a position right now to stop it in its tracks.  Further monitoring and perhaps further chemical treatments will be necessary to keep yet another invasive species from becoming established in New Jersey.

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