The Oceanography Centre of the University of Cyprus had made its third annual public appeal to help record jellyfish sightings and monitor their fluctuating populations, as part of the "JellyWatch" project across 22 countries.
The project aims to record the species of jellyfish that can be found in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea and their populations which have shown an increasing trend in their frequency in recent decades. Up until last year, only ten countries participated in the project and the monitoring of Jellyfish covered only the Mediterranean Sea. This year, the project was extended to the Black Sea and the number of countries participating in this effort doubled that shows growing interest in these organisms that affect important fisheries, aquaculture and tourism, as well as the health of citizens.
The project also plans to investigate the causes of the increase of jellyfish populations such as the introduction of non-indigenous species, construction of breakwaters, which constitute the necessary substrate for the development of polyps (sessile stage of jellyfish life cycle), overfishing and eutrophication.
The main feature of "JellyWatch" is to record jellyfish using "citizen science" (swimmers, tourists, leisure boat owners, etc) together with agencies and organised groups associated with the sea (diving centres, professional and amateur fishermen, and non-governmental organisations).
The UCy Oceanography Centre has undertaken a difficult task, since Cyprus has 648km of shoreline and a total area of 130,766 km2 of sea surface under Cyprus jurisdiction. It wants people to send a photograph, if available, and other data (position, abundance, density, intercation) to the Oceanography Center email at firstname.lastname@example.org :
The Oceanography Centre has created an interactive webpage www.oceanography.ucy.ac.cy/medusa/home.html where the public can learn more about jellyfish and the species that are of interest. The site also contains recordings of jellyfish that have been made so far. The map is available at www.oceanography.ucy.ac.cy/medusa/jellyfish_Map.html and the "JellyWatch" project website is at www.ciesm.org/marine/programs/jellywatch.htm
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