UO grad student researching Pyrosomes found along Oregon coast - KPTV - FOX 12

UO grad student researching Pyrosomes found along Oregon coast

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Photo: Hilarie Sorensen Photo: Hilarie Sorensen

There's an emerging phenomenon happening along the Pacific Northwest coastline involving small jelly-like organisms.

The organisms are called Pyrosomes. They glow when touched or disturbed, according to University of Oregon researcher Hilarie Sorensen. 

While they look cool, they could cause some major problems off the Oregon Coast.

Sorensen said she was shocked to see so many Pyrosomes because they are mostly found in temperate or tropic climates.

As a first year grad student, Sorensen was actually out on a research vessel headed from Northern California up the Oregon coast looking for a certain type of jellyfish. But every time researchers went down to get a sample, Pyrosomes showed up.

Sorensen decided to take a closer look at the Pyrosomes.

"First, you know, hundred feet or so there would just be thousands. You can see from the video there just everywhere and that's all you would get in the video, and in a lot of the nets they were sampling for a sorts of different animals and all we would get would be Pyrosomes and different sizes but a lot bigger than I think some people have seen before. The biggest one we got were two feet long," said Sorensen.

The problem comes when the Pyrosomes get caught in fishermen's nets, weighing them down and causing problems.

Plus, while animals like dolphins and whales eat them, scientists just don't know much about how they work into the food system. That is what Sorensen and other researchers are looking to find out.

Northwest Fisheries Science Center, a research station of NOAA in Newport, is behind the study that is part of a collaboration with the University of Oregon and Oregon State University.

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