When the Fog Clears

Chrysaora Jelly

A Chrysaora jelly. Photo: NOAA

Marina, California. Every year in the Monterey Bay as the summer fog season tapers off, jellies show up in massive numbers. The reason is pretty simple. The fog is generated by the summer sun hitting frigid cold water that bubbles up from the deep sea through a process called upwelling. This water from the deep is not only cold, but also high in nutrients – fueling the spectacular ocean ecosystem that makes the Monterey Bay so special. But once the fog clears out, the combination of sun and nutrients causes a bloom in plankton – sort of the underwater version of spring blossoms. Tiny plants called phytoplankton paint the water an emerald green and are fed upon by almost just as tiny, free-floating animals called zooplankton. That’s where the jellies come into the picture. They love those little guys – to eat, that is. So as the plankton blooms, so do the jellies. And in turn, so does something else. Leatherback sea turtles migrate from across the Pacific to gorge themselves on a strict jelly diet each year at this time. They don’t lay eggs here or spend much time once the jellies are gone. It’s just a typical case of dine ‘n dash in the ocean wilderness.

Here’s some video clips I took from last summer at this time. The jellies were in exceptional abundance and caused a few nasty stings on my face around the outside of my mask and regulator. But no worries, I’ll take a few jellyfish stings over long days of thick fog anytime!

2 Responses to “When the Fog Clears”

  1. Virginia says:

    Stunning images! Thanks for sharing

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