Variation in soft tissue chemistry among scyphozoan and cubozoan jellyfishes from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

  • Michelle A. TemplemanEmail author
  • Michael J. Kingsford
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology book series (DIHY, volume 220)


Bioaccumulation of trace elements in jellyfish has so far received little attention, despite their being prey for many animals from multiple trophic levels and targeted by commercial jellyfish fisheries. Scyphozoan and cubozoan jellyfish were collected over a three year period from across-shelf and along the northern and central Great Barrier Reef, Australia. To test the hypotheses that jellyfishes were able to accumulate elements above ambient background levels, and if there were spatial or temporal variations among species, soft tissue concentrations of 14 trace elements were compared with ambient seawater concentrations. Most elements, including aluminium, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, copper, iron, manganese and zinc were measured at concentrations above ambient seawater levels indicating bioaccumulative capacity. Results showed some regulation of lithium in Cassiopea sp., Cyanea sp. and Mastigias sp., while calcium, magnesium and strontium reflected ambient conditions for all species. Accumulation varied significantly among species and sampling locations. For Mastigias sp. and Netrostoma sp., tissue concentrations of Al, As, Cu, Fe and Zn decreased with distance from the mainland. The hypothesis that jellyfishes are capable of accumulating trace elements was accepted, and their use as biomonitors should be investigated further.


Jellyfish Scyphozoa Cubozoa Trace elements Heavy metals Great Barrier Reef 


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Special thanks go to Dr. Yi Hu for performing the ICP-MS/AES analyses as well as the numerous volunteers who assisted in sampling. Funding for the project was provided by The Marine and Tropical Research Fund (MTSRF), with additional fundings from the Australian Research Council (ARC) to MJ Kingsford, and The Noel and Kate Monkman Postgraduate Award in Marine Biology to MA Templeman.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School Marine & Tropical Biology and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef StudiesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

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