ross-shelf movement of Chrysaora fulgida (Scyphozoa; Discomedusae) off Namibia inferred from stable isotopes (δ15N and δ13C)
Large and small specimens of two species of metagenic Scyphozoa (true jellyfishes) can be found in nearshore waters off central Namibia throughout the year. Whereas populations of Chrysaora africana are largely restricted to inshore waters, C. fulgida occurs across the shelf, with small individuals found inshore and large individuals primarily found offshore. We examined stable isotopes δ15N and δ13C of both species in Walvis Bay and found that large-sized C. fulgida have lower δ15N values than small individuals and C. africana throughout the year. These differences are interpreted to reflect cross-shelf changes in δ15N baseline levels, with greater nitrogen recycling (and hence lower δ15N values) occurring offshore. The occasional/seasonal nearshore appearance of large C. fulgida with low δ15N values therefore implies routine, onshore advection. The values of δ13C did not show cross-shelf differences, which suggests that jellyfish populations across the shelf are supported by phytoplankton-based food chains. This study emphasises the value of using stable isotopes to examine the mesoscale structuring of jellyfish populations.
Keywords: Chrysaora africana, coastal upwelling, eastern boundary currents, energy flow, jellyfish, metagenesis, molecular markers