Pelagia noctiluca (mauve stinger)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Water Tolerances
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Vectors
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Social Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Detection and Inspection
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Pelagia noctiluca Forsskål, 1775
Preferred Common Name
- mauve stinger
International Common Names
- French: piqueur-mauve
Local Common Names
- Italy: medusa luminosa; vespa di mare
- Netherlands: parelkwal
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
The jellyfish P. noctiluca can be considered ‘invasive’ as the periodic occurrence of extraordinary abundances in coastal waters occurs when this typically offshore species is advected shoreward in years when population densities appear to be exceptionally high. Consequently, it is problematic at the very periphery of its ‘natural range’, thus differing from truly invasive species that have been introduced into a new area.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Cnidaria
- Class: Scyphozoa
- Order: Semaeostomeae
- Family: Pelagiidae
- Genus: Pelagia
- Species: Pelagia noctiluca
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
The order Semaestomeae comprises three families: Pelagiidae, Cyaneidae,and Ulmaridae, distinguishable by the following characters:
1. Gastrovascular cavity divided by radial septa into rhopalar and tentacular pouches.
a) Pouches simple and unbranched – Pelagiidae
b) Pouches branched – Cyaneidae
2. Gastrovascular system in form of unbranched and branching canals, or with anastomosing radial canals – Ulmaridae.
In addition the Pelagiidae has no ring canal, marginal tentacles arising from umbrella margin. There are three genera in this family.
DistributionTop of page
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 14 Dec 2020
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Belgium||Present||Invasive||Normally found in more offshore waters|
|Croatia||Present, Widespread||Native||Invasive||Islands of Lošinj and Susak, the marine National Park "Kornati Islands", Istrian Peninsula|
|Isle of Man||Present, Localized||1952||Native||Invasive||Coastal encroachment with jellyfish entering Irish Sea through North channel|
|Malta||Present, Localized||Native||Invasive||Normally found in more offshore waters|
|Spain||Present, Widespread||Native||Invasive||Large aggregations regarded as common in Bay of Biscay|
|-Northern Ireland||Absent, Formerly present||2007||Enormous aggregations, normally found offshore, transported through wind and currents through the north channel where they caused mass mortality of salmon at fish farms in County Antrim|
|-Hawaii||Absent, Formerly present||1999||Rare occurence, not usually found in coastal waters.|
|Atlantic - Eastern Central||Present|
|Atlantic - Northeast||Present|
|Atlantic - Northwest||Present|
|Atlantic - Southeast||Present|
|Atlantic - Southwest||Present|
|Atlantic - Western Central||Present|
|Indian Ocean - Eastern||Present|
|Indian Ocean - Western||Present|
|Mediterranean and Black Sea||Present|
|Pacific - Eastern Central||Present|
|Pacific - Northwest||Present|
|Pacific - Southeast||Present|
|Pacific - Southwest||Present|
|Pacific - Western Central||Present|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
The movement of P. noctiluca into coastal waters is a natural phenomenon in years of high abundance where aggregations are transported coastally by climatic conditions. However, there is certainly scope for the introduction of P. noctiluca into new areas through the dumping of ballast waters by commercial shipping.
HabitatTop of page
Habitat ListTop of page
|Marine||Inshore marine||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Marine||Pelagic zone (offshore)||Principal habitat||Natural|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
The DNA barcode form the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I gene of this species is described by Ortman et al. (2010).
P. noctiluca is a scyphozoan and adapted to a pelagic mode of life. This class of organisms has adapted in such a way that the polyp stage is shortened or in some cases such as that of the genus Pelagia this is absent, thus direct development following sexual reproduction exists. Four gonads arise as elongated endodermal proliferations, developing into ribbon-like folds in the inter-radial sectors of the stomach wall slightly distal to the rows of gastric filaments. Male and female gonads vary only slightly and the main difference is the thickness of the follicle.
Physiology and Phenology
Outbreaks of P. noctiluca are best documented for the Mediterranean where they have received considerable attention. The most extensive analysis was conducted by the Station Zoologique at Villefranche-sur-Mer based on records of "years with Pelagia noctiluca" and "years without Pelagia". These records, plus additional data, indicate that over the past 200 years (1785-1985) outbursts of P. noctiluca have occurred about every 12 years. Using a forecasting model, climatic variables, notably temperature, rainfall and atmospheric pressure, appear to predict "years with Pelagia" (Goy et al., 1989).
Water TolerancesTop of page
|Parameter||Minimum Value||Maximum Value||Typical Value||Status||Life Stage||Notes|
|Salinity (part per thousand)||Optimum||Salinities conducive to bloom formation are around 35–38 psu (see Purcell et al., 1999)|
|Water temperature (ºC temperature)||Optimum||Medusa bloom formations occur at above 10°C in winter and below 27°C in summer (see Purcell et al., 1999). Below 11°C active movement ceases|
Natural enemiesTop of page
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Environment (generally)||Positive and negative|
ImpactTop of page
Impact on Biodiversity
Economic ImpactTop of page
Within the Mediterranean Sea, P. noctiluca outbreaks are responsible for the loss of millions of dollars to the combined tourist industries of national states bordering the western basin and Adriatic Sea. P. noctiluca may also cause fish mortalities in aquaculture cages possibly by irritating the fish gills (Merceron et al., 1995). For example, in November 2007, the only salmon farm in Northern Ireland lost its entire population of more than 100,000 fish, worth US $2 million through the encroachment of an enormous jellyfish aggregation (Doyle et al., 2008). This has led to the near collapse of the northern Irish finfish aquaculture industry, which had a lucrative export trade to across Ireland, the UK, continental Europe and the US.
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Social ImpactTop of page
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Invasive in its native range
- Has a broad native range
- Abundant in its native range
- Capable of securing and ingesting a wide range of food
- Fast growing
- Has high reproductive potential
- Reproduces asexually
- Infrastructure damage
- Negatively impacts human health
- Negatively impacts livelihoods
- Negatively impacts aquaculture/fisheries
- Negatively impacts tourism
- Reduced amenity values
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Causes allergic responses
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Competition (unspecified)
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page
Uses ListTop of page
- Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
DiagnosisTop of page
Aggregations are visually detectable and do not require diagnosis.
Detection and InspectionTop of page
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
Cultural control and sanitary measures
Control by utilization
Monitoring and Surveillance
Gaps in Knowledge/Research NeedsTop of page
ReferencesTop of page
Axiak V; Galea C; Schembri PJ, 1991. Coastal aggregations of the jellyfish Pelagia noctiluca (Scyphozoa) in Maltese coastal waters during 1980-1986. In: Jellyfish blooms in the Mediterranean. Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Jellyfish in the Mediterranean Sea. Map Technical Reports Series, Athens, Greece: UNEP, 32-40.
Doyle TK; Haas H De; Cotton D; Dorshell B; Cummins V; Houghton JDR; Davenport J; Hays GC, 2008. Widespread occurrence of the jellyfish Pelagia noctiluca in Irish coastal and shelf waters. Journal of Plankton Research, 30:963-968.
Fearon JJ; Boyd AJ; Schülein FH, 1992. Views on the biomass and distribution of Chrysaora hysoscella (Linné, 1766) and Aequorea aequorea (Forskal, 1775) off Namibia, 1982-1989. Scientia marina, 56:75-84, 383-384 (errata).
Goy J; Morand P; Etienne M, 1989. Long-term fluctuations of Pelagia noctiluca (Cnidaria, Scyphomedusa) in the Western Mediterranean Sea. Prediction by climatic variables. Deep-Sea Research, 36:269-279.
Hay SJ; Hislop JRG; Shanks AM, 1990. North Sea Scyphomedusae; summer distribution, estimated biomass and significance particularly for 0-Group gadoid fish. Netherlands Journal of Sea Research, 25:113-130.
Houghton JDR; Doyle TK; Davenport J; Hays GC, 2006. The ocean sunfish Mola mola: insights into distribution, abundance and behaviour in the Irish & Celtic Seas. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 86:1-7.
Kettle AJ; Haines K, 2006. How does the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) retain its population structure during its larval migration across the North Atlantic Ocean? Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science, 63:90-106.
Lotan A; Fine M; Ben-Hillel R, 1994. Synchronization of the life cycle and dispersal pattern of the tropical invader scyphomedusan Rhopilema nomadica is temperature dependent. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 109:59-65.
Lynam CP; Hay SJ; Brierley AS, 2005. Jellyfish abundance and climatic variation: contrasting responses in oceanographically distinct regions of the North Sea, and possible implications for fisheries. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 85:435-450.
Malej A; Malej M, 1992. Population dynamics of the jellyfish Pelagia noctiluca (Forsskal, 1775). In: Marine Eutrophication and Population Dynamics [ed. by Colombo G, Ferrara I] Fredensborg, Denmark: Olsen & Olsen, 215-219.
Mills CE; Sommer F, 1995. Invertebrate introductions in marine habitats: two species of hydromedusae (Cnidaria) native to the Black Sea, Maeotias inexspectata and Blackfordia virginica, invade San Francisco Bay. Marine Biology, 122:279-288.
Ortman BD; Bucklin A; Pages F; Youngbluth M, 2010. DNA Barcoding the Medusozoa using mtCOI. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 57(24-26):2148-2156.
Purcell JE; Malej A; Benovic A, 1999. Potential links of jellyfish to eutrophication and fisheries. Ecosystems at the Land-Sea Margin: Drainage Basin to Coastal Sea. Coastal and Estuarine Studies, 55:241-263.
Ramšak A; Stopar K; Malej A, 2007. Dispersal ecology of scyphomedusae Pelagia noctiluca and Rhizostoma pulmo in the European Southern Seas. In: International biogeography Society Third biennial conference, Tenerife, Canary Islands, 9-13 January 2007. p. 105.
Rottini-Sandrini L; Stravisi F; Pieri G, 1980. A recent shift in the wind distribution and the appearance of unusual planktonic organisms in the Gulf of Trieste. Bollitin Societe Adriatica Scientia Trieste, 64:77-84.
Shimomura T, 1959. On the unprecedented flourishing of 'Echizen-Kurage', Stomolophus nomurai (Kishinouye), in the TsushimaWarm Current regions in autumn, 1958. Bulletin of the Japanese Sea Regional Fisheries Research Laboratory, 7:85-107.
Sparks C; Buecher E; Brierley AS; Axelsen BE; Boyer H; Gibbons MJ, 2001. Observations on the distribution and relative abundance of the scyphomedusan Chrysaora hysoscella (Linné, 1776) and the hydrozoan Aequorea aequorea (Forskal, 1775) in the northern Benguela ecosystem. Hydrobiologia, 451:275-286.
Vucetic T, 1984. Some causes of the blooms and unusual distribution of the jellyfish Pelagia noctiluca in the Mediterranean (Adriatic). In: Proc. Workshop on Jellyfish Blooms in the Mediterranean, Athens 1983, UNEP, 167-176.
Zavodnik D, 1991. On the food and feeding in the North Adriatic of Pelagia noctiluca (Scyphozoa). Jellyfish blooms in the Mediterranean, Proceedings of II workshop on jellyfish in the Mediterranean Sea. MAP Tech. Rep Ser. Athens, Greece: UNEP.
Axiak V, Galea C, Schembri P J, 1991. Coastal aggregations of the jellyfish Pelagia noctiluca (Scyphozoa) in Maltese coastal waters during 1980-1986. In: Jellyfish blooms in the Mediterranean. Proceedings of II Workshop on Jellyfish in the Mediterranean Sea [Jellyfish blooms in the Mediterranean. Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Jellyfish in the Mediterranean Sea.], Athens, Greece: UNEP. 32-40.
CABI, Undated. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI
Doyle T K, Haas H De, Cotton D, Dorshell B, Cummins V, Houghton J D R, Davenport J, Hays G C, 2008. Widespread occurrence of the jellyfish Pelagia noctiluca in Irish coastal and shelf waters. Journal of Plankton Research. 963-968.
Kramp P L, 1974. [English title not available]. (Medusae Rapport Danmark Expedition 1908-1910 Mediterranean (2). Biology: 8). In: Medusae Rapport Danmark Expedition 1908-1910 Mediterranean (2). Biology: 8, 67.
Rappé G, 1989. Larger Cnidaria and Ctenophora from the plankton and pleuston in Belgian waters. In: Proceedings of the Symposium "Invertebrates of Belgium" [Proceedings of the Symposium "Invertebrates of Belgium"], [ed. by Wouters K, Baert L]. 15-18.
OrganizationsTop of page
France: Oceanographic Institute of Paris, 195 Rue Saint-Jacques, 75005 Paris, http://www.oceano.org/io
Ireland: University College Cork - Coastal & Marine Resources Centre, Glucksman Marine Facility Naval Base, Haulbowline, Cobh, Cork, http://www.ucc.ie
Slovenia: Marine Biology Station, Piran, National Institute of Biology, Fornace 41, 6330 Piran, http://www.mbss.org/portal/index.php
Slovenia: University of Primorska, Titov TRG 4, 6000 Koper, http://www.upr.si/en
UK: Swansea University - School of Biological Sciences, Singleton Park, Swansea, SA2 8PP, http://www.swansea.ac.uk
Northern Ireland: Queen's University - School of Biological Sciences, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 7BL, http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofBiologicalScience
USA: University of Washington - Friday Harbor Laboratories, 620 University Road, Friday Harbor, WA 98250, http://depts.washington.edu/fhl
ContributorsTop of page
04/08/08 Original text by:
Jonathan Houghton, Institute of Environmental Sustainability, School of the Environment & Society, Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK
Distribution MapsTop of page
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CABI Summary Records
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