Researchers are studying jellyfish beach strandings, like this one in Denmark, along the West Coast. SilverSnapper / Getty Images By Jenessa Duncombe During some years in the spring, so many jellyfish wash ashore on the beaches of Washington, Oregon, and California that they carpet the sand in thick, gooey mats. The jellyfish Velella velella can pile so high that taken together, they likely equal six and half blue whales’ worth of stuff . Researchers now want to know where the jellyfish came from and what they could mean for the ecosystem. "The question is, Are all those gazillions of Velella colonies out there eating all the fish eggs?" said Julia Parrish , a marine ecologist at the University of Washington. New research from Parrish and her colleagues suggests that mass strandings of V. velella come from spikes in population caused by warmer-than-average ocean temperatures off the U.S. West Coast. The spikes have happened in 14 of the past 20 years. "When we see gazillions of the Velella showing up year after year, they in fact are telling us that the system is breaking," said Parrish. Climate change is expected to warm ocean waters , so V. velella strandings could […]

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