Think climate change means less Irukandji jellyfish? Don’t count on it

Climate change is unlikely to cause many problems for a sometimes lethal species of box jellyfish that frequents northern Australian waters, according to research supported by the Tropical Water Quality Hub. Professor Kylie Pitt and her team at Griffith University investigated the effect of water conditions expected under both optimistic and extreme climate change scenarios on the health and reproductive capabilities of polyps of the Irukandji (Carukia barnsei) jellyfish. Despite a reduction in reproduction, mobility and metabolic rate under extreme climate scenarios, the polyps were largely unaffected by the conditions expected under optimistic predictions for climate change (in which water temperatures rise to 28 degrees Celsius and pH falls to 7.9). PhD student, Sheldon Rey Boco, who led the study concluded that ‘our results suggest that C. barnsei polyps are unaffected by the most optimistic climate scenario and may tolerate even extreme climate conditions to some extent.’