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The Nature of the Symbiosis Between Cannonball Jellyfish and Spider Crabs in Georgia’s Coastal Waters

David J. Stasek1,*, Jeffrey E. Tailer1,James Page2,3, Patrick J. Geer2,4, and Bryan A. Fluech5

1Department of Natural Sciences, College of Coastal Georgia, Brunswick, GA 31520. 2Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Coastal Resources Division, Brunswick, GA 31520. 3Current address - Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division, Fisheries Section, Waycross, GA 31502. 4Current address - Virginia Marine Resources Commission, Fisheries Management Division, Hampton, VA, 23651. 5University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, Brunswick, GA 31520. *Corresponding author.

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 19, Issue 2 (2020): 233–240

Stomolophus meleagris (Cannonball Jellyfish) is a common Cnidarian species in the coastal waters of Georgia. Libinia spp. (spider crab) juveniles commonly inhabit the bell of the Cannonball Jellyfish, but there is uncertainty as to whether the crabs are parasitic on the Cannonball Jellyfish or are commensals. To assess the nature of this symbiosis, Cannonball Jellyfish were randomly sampled at multiple sites along the Georgia coast. For each Cannonball Jellyfish, the number of juvenile spider crabs inhabiting the bell was recorded along with multiple measurements of Cannonball Jellyfish and spider crabs. Our results suggest that the symbiosis between the Cannonball Jellyfish and juvenile spider crabs is an example of commensalism and not parasitism.

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