Thursday 24 October 2019

Closure of nuclear power plant allows Sea Nettles to return to New Jersey bay.

Sea Nettles,  have returned to Barnegat Bay in New Jersey following the closure of the Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Station in September 2018. The bay had a thriving ecosystem including a diverse invertebrate fauna before the opening of the power plant in 1969, but this was disrupted by the operations of the plant, which discharged water into the bay at 10°C above the normal temperature in the bay, disrupting the bay's normal wildlife. Since the power plant's closure the amount of water passing through it has been cut by 95%, and environmentalists are hoping that the return of the Sea Nettles will be a precursor to that of other species formerly common in the bay. The power plant was closed after the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection agreed with concerns raised by environmental groups, who observed that the hot water was killing the eggs of a wide range of Fish and invertebrate groups, and that the system was sucking in vulnerable species, including Fish and Turtles, which were either trapped by the systems suction grates or pulled through the cooling pipes and killed by the heat within the reactors. A proposed alternative plan, that involved installing an air cooling system, was rejected by the plant's owners Excelon as being too costly. 

The former Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Station on Barnegat Bay in New Jersey.

Atlantic Sea Nettles, Chrysaora quinquecirrha, are a Jellyfish species reaching a maximum size of about 40 cm, which feed principally on zooplankton, making them a useful environmental indicator. The species is found on the Atlantic Coast of the Americas from New England to Brazil. The sting of a Sea Nettle, while unpleasant, is not a serious threat to Humans, usually causing a painful rash that persists for about 20 minutes.

An Atlantic Sea Nettles, Chrysaora quinquecirrha. Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary/NOAA/Wikimedia Commons.

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