Investigating predator-prey dynamics of leatherback sea turtles and jellyfish in Atlantic Canadian waters
The leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), classified as endangered in Canadian waters, faces several natural and anthropogenic threats. They are a highly migratory species, traveling between tropical waters to nest, and northern temperate waters to feed. There is a large foraging population of leatherbacks that gather on the Scotian Shelf in Canadian waters from July to the end of September every year, to feed on jellyfish. Leatherbacks are obligate jellyfish feeders, and while in Canadian waters are found to feed almost exclusively on large scyphozoan jellyfish (such as lion’s mane, and moon jellies). While the last decade has proven to be significant in leatherback sea turtle research in Atlantic Canada, their prey field is still highly under-researched.
My master’s project is investigating the spatial and seasonal distribution of jellyfish in the northwest Atlantic and relate that to the foraging behaviour of leatherback sea turtles. Citizen scientists play an important role in this project, as well as existing data sets from other organizations (DFO, Canadian Sea Turtle Network), and field work based off the coast of Nova Scotia. These methods are being used to examine broad scale and in-situ predator-prey dynamics between leatherbacks and jellyfish.
MSc Biology Student
Boris Worm (Dalhousie University)
IN COLLABORATION WITH
Mike James (PhD, Department of Fisheries and Oceans)
TYPE/STATUS OF PROJECT
Scientific research (in progress)
Principal InvestigatorBethany Nordstrom
Biology Department, Dalhousie University 1355 Oxford Street PO Box 15000 Halifax NS B3H 4R2 Canada