Australian Antarctic Division

Kingston, Australia

Australian Antarctic Division

Kingston, Australia
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News Article | January 2, 2014
Site: www.theguardian.com

To most people the prolonged stranding of the MV Akademik Shokalskiy in thick pack ice off the coast of Antarctica is an unfortunate incident that provided passengers with rather static scenery for their Christmas and New Year celebrations. But to some climate change contrarians, repeated attempts to free the vessel from the ice are proof that the theory of climate change is flawed or, at best, exaggerated. After all, a warming planet has no ice at all, right? In Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, Roger Franklin dispensed with analysis of ice extent, the cyrosphere and the like to get to the heart of the matter – expedition leader Chris Turney is a “warmist” whose understanding of Antarctica amounts to little more than it gets “really, really cold”. The Australian newspaper darkly intoned that the stranding was a “hard lesson for those who persistently exaggerate the impact of global warming”. Helpfully, the newspaper points out that researchers aboard the Akademik Shokalskiy have suffered an “embarrassing failure” in their mission, which apparently was not to follow in the footsteps of explorer Douglas Mawson and build on his scientific observations but to prove beyond doubt that climate change is real. ABC science broadcaster Adam Spencer took to Twitter – another of the The Australian’s bugbears – to lament that “you’d fail a year 8 science test if you presented the misunderstandings” contained in The Australian’s editorial. To help clear up the confusion, here are some basic Antarctic facts. The Antarctic is an enormous frozen continent that covers about a fifth of the southern hemisphere. It is the driest, windiest continent on Earth, covered by ice that can reach 4km deep. A new world record for a low temperature was set in December when a NASA satellite clocked a reading of minus 93.3C on the east Antarctic plateau. Surrounding the vast glacial, or land-based, ice is sea ice, which contracts and expands depending on the season. This is an important distinction, which we will get to shortly. The Arctic (around the north pole, doesn’t have penguins, but has polar bears) is very different from the Antarctic (around the south pole, has penguins, but not polar bears). Essentially, the Antarctic is a continent of ice surrounded by cold water. The Arctic is a semi-enclosed ocean, almost completely surrounded by land. Steadily warming land and sea temperatures have had a visible impact on the Arctic, with its extent reaching record lows in recent years. The loss of ice in Antarctica does not appear to be as dramatic and it is even increasing in places, leading some to believe this means global warming is not occurring. “The Arctic is warming much faster than the Antarctic because it’s an open ocean surrounded by continents,” said Tony Press, chief executive of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-operative Research Centre based at the University of Tasmania. “When people talk about an increase in ice they are actually talking about sea ice, which is completely different from continental ice. Warmer oceans help melt the ice and make it thinner, which has been observed in the Arctic. In Antarctica it’s more complicated. It is losing continental ice while sea ice has been increasing by about 1% a decade.” Studies have found Antarctica has lost about 100bn tonnes of continental ice a year since 1993, causing the global sea level to rise by about 0.2mm a year. The latest climate report from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released last year, said there was “high confidence” that the Antarctic ice sheet had been losing ice during the past two decades, mainly from the northern and western parts of the continent, near South America. “There is high confidence that ice shelves around the Antarctic peninsula continue a long-term trend of retreat and partial collapse that began decades ago,” the report added. But this loss, caused by warming oceans, has been countered by an increase in ice in the Ross Sea region. This is the result of a range of factors, including climate change. “There has been an increase in snowfall in parts of the Antarctic, especially the east Antarctic where the ship is,” Press said. “That increase in snowfall can be attributed to warmer temperatures. It’s a pretty basic principle of science that increased air humidity causes precipitation if it’s warm enough or snow if it’s cold enough. It’s very cold in the Antarctic, so it snows.” Contrary to some of the more outlandish claims made by climate change deniers, the ship was not suddenly enveloped by ice due to rapidly plummeting temperatures. It was pinned by ice carved off from the Mertz glacier, a well-established ice formation. “In the last few years the ice near where the ship is bogged has become less accessible,” Press said. “This will eventually break up and move away, depending on wind patterns, storms, tidal activity and ambient temperatures. These are variable, local conditions.” The Australian Antarctic Division has been collecting data on ice flow, thickness and other such things in east Antarctica for more than 50 years. Despite this, the organisation admits there are still gaps in scientific understanding of the Antarctic, mainly around the dynamics of ice sheets. This understanding will be improved by rigorous analysis of gathered evidence. It’s unlikely a single ship getting stuck in ice will cause a major deviation in researchers’ findings.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: INT-01-2015 | Award Amount: 1.06M | Year: 2016

Mesopelagic Southern Ocean Prey and Predators The underlying concept of MESOPP is the creation of a collaborative network and associated e-infrastructure (marine ecosystem information system) between European and Australian research teams/institutes sharing similar interests in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica, its marine ecosystem functioning and the rapid changes occurring with the climate warming and the exploitation of marine resources. While MESOPP will focus on the enhancement of collaborations by eliminating various obstacles in establishing a common methodology and a connected network of databases of acoustic data for the estimation of micronekton biomass and validation of models, it will also contribute to a better predictive understanding of the SO based on furthering the knowledge base on key functional groups of micronekton and processes which determine ecosystem dynamics from physics to large oceanic predators. This first project and associated implementation (science network and specification of an infrastructure) should constitute the nucleus of a larger international programme of acoustic monitoring and micronekton modelling to be integrated in the general framework of ocean observation following a roadmap that will be prepared during the project.


News Article | December 22, 2016
Site: motherboard.vice.com

Not sure if that's footage of aliens or earthlings? This Youtube video by Storyful News offers a rare peak at the marine world below Antarctic sea level. With all kinds of colors and shapes, starfish, wigglies, and pompom-looking things, it's really a world unto itself. Glenn Johnstone, marine biologist with the Australian Antarctic Division, tells us in the video that the footage was shot close to the eastern Antarctic coast, five kilometers from the Casey Research Station and about 3800 kilometers below Perth, Australia. The footage was taken as part of an experiment to look at the effects of ocean acidification, or the perpetual decrease in pH levels of the Earth's oceans. The researchers wanted to see the impacts of acidification on marine fauna, and how it might react to pH levels by the year 2100. Climate change is one of the major threats to global marine systems, said Johnstone, and Antarctica is specifically sensitive to ocean acidification because cold water soaks up more carbon dioxide than water in warmer regions. "Antarctica is where we may see changes due to ocean acidification before we see it around the rest of the world," he said. To get the footage, the researchers deployed a GoPro camera, mounted on top of a remote underwater vehicle, through a hole in the sea ice. The camera was lowered 30 meters below the sheet of ice. At that level, the creatures enjoy a relatively stable environment, with little or no current or wind, due to the protective cap of sea ice sitting over it. The temperature also barely changes all year, so the organisms down there are not adapted as well to environmental changes as are others in more temperate or tropical zones where the temperature range is much broader. And those all those wiggly, squishy, flowy creatures? It's a diverse array down there, according to Johnstone, which includes sea stars, sponges, ascidians, sea cucumbers, worms, sea spiders, and so on. So, while it's not outer space, it might as well be. Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.


Van Ommen T.D.,Australian Antarctic Division | Morgan V.,Australian Antarctic Division
Nature Geoscience | Year: 2010

The southwest corner of Western Australia has been subject to a serious drought in recent decades. A range of factors, such as natural variability and changes in land use, ocean temperatures and atmospheric circulation, have been implicated in this drought, but the ultimate cause and the relative importance of the various factors remain unclear. Here we report a significant inverse correlation between the records of precipitation at Law Dome, East Antarctica and southwest Western Australia over the instrumental period, including the most recent decades. This relationship accounts for up to 40% of the variability on interannual to decadal timescales, and seems to be driven by the meridional circulation south of Australia that simultaneously produces a northward flow of relatively cool, dry air to southwest Western Australia and a southward flow of warm, moist air to East Antarctica. This pattern of meridional flow is consistent with some projections of circulation changes arising from anthropogenic climate change. The precipitation anomaly of the past few decades in Law Dome is the largest in 750 years, and lies outside the range of variability for the record as a whole, suggesting that the drought in Western Australia may be similarlyunusual. © 2010 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.


Hunter J.,Australian Antarctic Division
Climatic Change | Year: 2010

Estimation of expected extremes, using combinations of observations and model simulations, is common practice. Many techniques assume that the background statistics are stationary and that the resulting estimates may be used satisfactorily for any time in the future. We are now however in a period of climate change, during which both average values and statistical distributions may change in time. The situation is further complicated by the considerable uncertainty which accompanies the projections of such future change. Any useful technique for the assessment of future risk should combine our knowledge of the present, our best estimate of how the world will change, and the uncertainty in both. A method of combining observations of present sea-level extremes with the (uncertain) projections of sea-level rise during the 21st century is described, using Australian data as an example. The technique makes the assumption that the change of flooding extremes during the 21st century will be dominated by the rise in mean sea level and that the effect of changes in the variability about the mean will be relatively small. The results give engineers, planners and policymakers a way of estimating the probability that a given sea level will be exceeded during any prescribed period during the present century. © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009.


de la Mare W.K.,Australian Antarctic Division
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences | Year: 2014

Catch per unit effort (CPUE) is often the only data available from historical fisheries for inferring distribution and abundance of exploited populations. CPUE underestimates variations in relative abundance when gross effort data are only measured in total operating days. Gross effort includes both searching time and handling time, but only searching time is useful for an index of abundance. A method is developed for estimating searching time by subtracting a maximum likelihood estimate of handling time from the gross effort. An expectation maximization (E-M) algorithm is used to combine maximum likelihood estimates of the handling time with the expected additional operating time due to handling the last catch of each day. Simulation tests show that the estimates of catch per unit of searching time (C/CSW) are much closer to proportionally related to local density than gross CPUE. Estimates of handling time are not unbiased, and some nonlinearity between local density and C/CSW may persist. The methods may be useful for other fisheries where historic gross catch and effort data involve both searching and handling.


Constable A.J.,Australian Antarctic Division
Fish and Fisheries | Year: 2011

The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) is widely recognized as a leading international organization in developing best practice in the ecosystem approach to managing fisheries. CCAMLR provides a useful case study for examining the impediments to implementing ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) because it has EBFM principles embedded within its convention rather than having to make a transition from single-species management to an ecosystem approach. CCAMLR is demonstrating that (i) EBFM does not need to equate to complexity in management and (ii) methods can be developed to decide on spatial management strategies for fisheries so that predators of target species are not disproportionately affected as a result of spatial and/or temporal dependencies of predators on their prey. Science has an important role in implementing EBFM, not only in measuring and assessing the status of target species and their predators but also in designing cost-effective management strategies and in resolving disputes. Importantly, attention needs to be given to developing the capability and tools to overcome differences amongst scientists in providing advice to managers. The CCAMLR experience suggests that, without adequate safeguards, voluntary participation by fishing States in CCAMLR and its consensus environment do not provide strong foundations for achieving, in the long term, the ecosystem-based principles for managing fisheries when there is any degree of scientific uncertainty. Some solutions to these issues are discussed. Overall, broader-than-CCAMLR solutions amongst the international community as well as the continued commitment of CCAMLR Members will be required to resolve these issues. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Wienecke B.,Australian Antarctic Division
Polar Biology | Year: 2012

In 1956, an emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) colony had been reported during an aerial survey north of the north-western protrusion of the West Ice Shelf in East Antarctica. About 15,000 birds were estimated to be present. The region often has very heavy pack ice conditions hindering access by vessels. In the summers of 2009-2011, we surveyed the area from the air and sighted two emperor penguin colonies. One was situated on top of the ice shelf and comprised 342 adults and 1,156 chicks. The second colony was seen near the northern edge of the West Ice Shelf on the sea ice about 60 km farther south than in 1956. There were at least 1,498 adults and 3,436 chicks. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.


News Article | December 21, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

Antarctica may look like a forbidding white expanse, but life below the sea ice is full of colour. Scientists from the Australian Antarctic Division sent a robot down to take a look, capturing a small forest of underwater organisms in bright purples, yellows and pinks. The Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) was submerged at O'Brien Bay in east Antarctica. According to biologist Glenn Johnstone, the organisms survive in water that is -1.5 degrees Celsius (29.3 degrees Fahrenheit) and covered in thick sea ice for most of the year. "This footage reveals a habitat that is productive, colourful, dynamic and full of a wide variety of biodiversity, including sponges, sea spiders, urchins, sea cucumbers and sea stars," he said in a statement. The research team was collecting data about sea water acidity, salinity and temperature to help them understand how the region will be affected by climate change, particularly ocean acidification. "Antarctica may be one of the first places we see detrimental effects of ocean acidification on these organisms," Johnstone added. The gloves come off: 'Rogue One' debate gets heated 'Poop the Potato' game is here to save you from the holidays Conquer yourself in this exhilarating DreamHack Masters trailer


News Article | March 23, 2016
Site: www.nature.com

Jennifer Purcell watches intently as the boom of the research ship Skookum slowly eases a 3-metre-long plankton net out of Puget Sound near Olympia, Washington. The marine biologist sports a rain suit, which seems odd for a sunny day in August until the bottom of the net is manoeuvred in her direction, its mesh straining from a load of moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita). Slime drips from the bulging net, and long tentacles dangle like a scene from an alien horror film. But it does not bother Purcell, a researcher at Western Washington University's marine centre in Anacortes. Pushing up her sleeves, she plunges in her hands and begins to count and measure the messy haul with an assuredness borne from nearly 40 years studying these animals. Most marine scientists do not share her enthusiasm for the creatures. Purcell has spent much of her career locked in a battle to find funding and to convince ocean researchers that jellyfish deserve attention. But she hasn't had much luck. One problem is the challenges that come with trying to study organisms that are more than 95% water and get ripped apart in the nets typically used to collect other marine animals. On top of that, outside the small community of jellyfish researchers, many biologists regard the creatures as a dead end in the food web — sacs of salty water that provide almost no nutrients for predators except specialized ones such as leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), which are adapted to consume jellies in large quantities. “It's been very, very hard to convince fisheries scientists that jellies are important,” says Purcell. But that's starting to change. Among the crew today are two fish biologists from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) whose research had previously focused on the region's rich salmon stocks. A few years ago, they discovered that salmon prey such as herring and smelt tend to congregate in different areas of the sound from jellyfish1 and they are now trying to understand the ecological factors at work and how they might be affecting stocks of valuable fish species. But first, the researchers need to know how many jellyfish are out there. For this, the team is taking a multipronged approach. They use a seaplane to record the number and location of jellyfish aggregations, or 'smacks', scattered about the sound. And on the research ship, a plankton net has been fitted with an underwater camera to reveal how deep the smacks reach. Correigh Greene, one of the NOAA scientists on board, says that if salmon populations are affected in some way by jellyfish, “then we need to be tracking them”. From the fjords of Norway to the vast open ocean waters of the South Pacific, researchers are taking advantage of new tools and growing concern about marine health to probe more deeply into the roles that jellyfish and other soft-bodied creatures have in the oceans. Initially this was driven by reports of unusually large jellyfish blooms wreaking havoc in Asia, Europe and elsewhere, which triggered fears that jellyfish were taking over the oceans. But mounting evidence is starting to convince some marine ecologists that gelatinous organisms are not as irrelevant as previously presumed. Some studies show that the animals are important consumers of everything from microscopic zooplankton to small fish, others suggest that jellies have value as prey for a wide range of species, including penguins, lobsters and bluefin tuna. There's also evidence that they might enhance the flow of nutrients and energy between the species that live in the sunlit surface waters and those in the impoverished darkness below. “We're all busy looking up at the top of the food chain,” says Andrew Jeffs, a marine biologist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. “But it's the stuff that fills the bucket and looks like jelly snot that is actually really important in terms of the planet and the way food chains operate.” The animals in question are descendants of some of Earth's oldest multicellular life forms. The earliest known jellyfish fossil dates to more than 550 million years ago, but some researchers estimate that they may have been around for 700 million years, appearing long before fish. They're also surprisingly diverse. Some are tiny filter feeders that can prey on the zooplankton that few other animals can exploit. Others are giant predators with bells up to two metres in diameter and tentacles long enough to wrap around a school bus — three times. Jellyfish belong to the phylum Cnidaria and have stinging cells that are potent enough in some species to kill a human. Some researchers use the term jellyfish, or 'jellies' for short, to refer to all of the squishy forms in the ocean. But others prefer the designation of 'gelatinous zooplankton' because it reflects the amazing diversity among these animals that sit in many different phyla: some species are closer on the tree of life to humans than they are to other jellies. Either way, the common classification exists mainly for one dominant shared feature — a body plan that is based largely on water. This structure can make gelatinous organisms hard to see. Many are also inaccessible, living far out at sea or deep below the light zone. They often live in scattered aggregations that are prone to dramatic population swings, making them difficult to census. Lacking hard parts, they're extremely fragile. “It's hard to find jellyfish in the guts of predators,” says Purcell. “They're digested very fast and they turn to mush soon after they're eaten.” For most marine biologists, running into a mass of jellyfish is nothing but trouble because their collection nets get choked with slime. “It's not just that we overlooked them,” says Jonathan Houghton at Queen's University Belfast, UK. “We actively avoided them.” But over the past decade and a half, jellyfish have become increasingly difficult to ignore. Enormous blooms along the Mediterranean coast, a frequent summer occurrence since 2003, have forced beaches to close and left thousands of bathers nursing painful stings. In 2007, venomous jellyfish drifted into a salmon farm in Northern Ireland, killing its entire stock of 100,000 fish. On several occasions, nuclear power plants have temporarily shut down operations owing to jelly-clogged intake pipes. The news spurred scientists to take a closer look at the creatures. Marine biologist Luis Cardona at the University of Barcelona in Spain had been studying mostly sea turtles and sea lions. But around 2006, he shifted some of his attention to jellyfish after large summer blooms of mauve stingers (Pelagia noctiluca) had become a recurring problem for Spain's beach-goers. Cardona was particularly concerned by speculation that the jellyfish were on the rampage because overfishing had reduced the number of predators. “That idea didn't have very good scientific support,” he says. “But it was what people and politicians were basing their decisions on, so I decided to look into it.” For this he turned to stable-isotope analysis, a technique that uses the chemical fingerprint of carbon and nitrogen in the tissue of animals to tell what they have eaten. When Cardona's team analysed 20 species of predator and 13 potential prey, it was surprised to find that jellies had a major role in the diets of bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus), little tunny (Euthynnus alletteratus) and spearfish (Tetrapturus belone)2. In the case of juvenile bluefins, jellyfish and other gelatinous animals represented up to 80% of the total food intake. “According to our models they are probably one of the most important prey for juvenile bluefin tuna,” says Cardona. Some researchers have challenged the findings, arguing that stable-isotope results can't always distinguish between prey that have similar diets — jellyfish and krill both eat phytoplankton, for instance. “I'm sure it's not true,” Purcell says of the diet analysis. Fast-moving fish, she says, “have the highest energy requirements of anything that's out there. They need fish to eat — something high quality, high calorie.” But Cardona stands by the results, pointing out that stomach-content analyses on fish such as tuna have found jellyfish, but not krill. What's more, he conducted a different diet study3 that used fatty acids as a signature, which supported his earlier results on jellyfish, he says. “They're probably playing a more relevant role in the pelagic ecosystem of the western Mediterranean than we originally thought.” Researchers are reaching the same conclusion elsewhere in the world. On an expedition to Antarctica in 2010–11, molecular ecologist Simon Jarman gathered nearly 400 scat samples to get a better picture of the diet of Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae), a species thought to be threatened by global warming. Jarman, who works at the Australian Antarctic Division in Kingston, reported in 2013 that DNA analysis of the samples revealed that jellyfish are a common part of the penguin's diet4. Work that has yet to be published suggests the same is true for other Southern Ocean seabirds. “Albatrosses, gentoo penguins, king penguins, macaroni and rockhopper penguins — all of them eat jellyfish to some extent,” says Jarman (see 'Lean cuisine'). “Even though jellyfish may not be the most calorifically important food source in any area, they're everywhere in the ocean and they're contributing something to many top-level predators.” And some parts of jellyfish hold more calories than others. Fish have been observed eating only the gonads of reproductive-stage jellyfish, suggesting a knack for zeroing in on the most energy-rich tissues. Through DNA analyses, researchers are also discovering more about how jellyfish function as refuges in the open ocean. Scientists have long known that small fish, crustaceans and a wide range of other animals latch on to jellyfish to get free rides. But in the past few years, it has become clear that the hitchhikers also dine on their transport. In the deep waters of the South Pacific and Indian oceans, Jeffs has been studying the elusive early life stages of the spiny lobster (Panulirus cygnus). During a 2011 plankton-collecting expedition 350 kilometres off the coast of Western Australia, he and his fellow researchers hauled in a large salp (Thetys vagina), a common barrel-shaped gelatinous animal. The catch also included dozens of lobster larvae, including six that were embedded in the salp itself. DNA analysis of the lobsters' stomach glands revealed that the larvae had been feeding on their hosts5. Jeffs now suspects that these crustaceans, which support a global fishery worth around US$2 billion a year, depend heavily on this relationship. “What makes the larvae so successful in the open ocean,” he says, “is that they can cling to what is basically a big piece of floating meat, like a jellyfish or a big salp, and feed on it for a couple of weeks without exerting any energy at all.” Researchers are starting to recognize that jellyfish are important for other reasons, such as transferring nutrients from one part of the ocean to another. Biological oceanographer Andrew Sweetman at the International Research Institute of Stavanger in Norway has seen this in his studies of 'jelly falls', a term coined to describe what happens when blooms crash and a large number of dead jellies sink rapidly to the sea floor. In November 2010, Sweetman began to periodically lower a camera rig 400 metres to the bottom of Lurefjorden in southwestern Norway to track the fate of this fjord's dense population of jellyfish6. Previous observations from elsewhere had suggested that dead jellies pile up and rot, lowering oxygen levels and creating toxic conditions. But Sweetman was surprised to find almost no dead jellies on the sea floor. “It didn't make sense.” He worked out what was happening in 2012, when he returned to the fjord and lowered traps baited with dead jellyfish and rigged with video cameras. The footage from the bottom of the fjord showed scavengers rapidly consuming the jellies. “We had just assumed that nothing was going to be eating them,” he says. Back on land, Sweetman calculated7 that jelly falls increased the amount of nitrogen reaching the bottom by as much as 160%. That energy is going back into the food web instead of getting lost through decay, as researchers had thought. He's since found similar results using remotely operated vehicles at much greater depths in remote parts of the Pacific Ocean. “It's overturning the paradigm that jellyfish are dead ends in the food web,” says Sweetman. Such discoveries have elicited mixed responses. For Richard Brodeur, a NOAA fisheries biologist based in Newport, Oregon, the latest findings do not change the fact that fish and tiny crustaceans such as krill are the main nutrient source for most of the species that are valued by humans. If jellyfish are important, he argues, it is in the impact they can have as competitors and predators when their numbers get out of control. In one of his current studies, he's found that commercially valuable salmon species such as coho (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and Chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) that are caught where jellyfish are abundant have less food in their stomachs compared with those taken from where jellies are rare, suggesting that jellyfish may have negative impacts on key fish species. “If you want fish resources,” he says, “having a lot of jellyfish is probably not going to help.” But other researchers see the latest findings as reason to temper the growing vilification of jellyfish. In a 2013 book chapter8, Houghton and his three co-authors emphasized the positive side of jellies in response to what they saw as “the flippant manner in which wholesale removal of jellyfish from marine systems is discussed”. As scientists gather more data, they hope to get a better sense of exactly what role jellyfish have in various ocean regions. If jellies turn out to be as important as some data now suggest, the population spikes that have made the headlines in the past decade could have much wider repercussions than previously imagined. Back in Puget Sound, Greene is using a camera installed on a net to gather census data on a jellyfish smack. He watches video from the netcam as it slowly descends through a dense mass of creamy white spheres. At a depth of around 10 metres, the jelly curtain finally begins to thin out. Later, Greene makes a crude estimate. “Two point five to three million,” he says, before adding after a brief pause, “that's a lot of jellyfish.” A more careful count will come later. Right now there's plenty of slime to be hosed off the back deck. Once that's taken care of, the ship's engines come to life. The next jellyfish patch awaits.

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