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Southern African Jellyfish watch website launched

on 29 Jul 2008

The SA Jelly Watch website, that aims to build up an understanding of jellyfish biology and seasonality around South and southern Africa, has been launched.

Press Release via SANCOR mailing list

Elsewhere in the world, jellyfish are becoming more common and they threaten many coastal economic and recreational activities. Although we know they can be a problem in some parts of the southern African sub-region, we don't understand how much of a problem they are locally. In fact, by comparison with many other groups of much smaller and less spectacular organisms, we don't even know how many different types there are, let alone anything about their general biology!

SA Jelly Watch aims to build a network of volunteer observers around South and southern Africa who will monitor jellyfish on a regular basis, and has been put together by scientists at the University of the Western Cape. The information that is collected will be centrally organized and used to establish a "baseline" understanding of jellyfish biology and seasonality that can eventually be mined to predict when and where jellyfish outbreaks might occur.

Who Can Help: You do not have to be an expert to help monitor jellyfish: if you work or relax near the coast or have an interest in marine matters then you can help. We are particularly keen to enlist the support of regular users of the sea and coast such as walkers, divers, surfers, canoeists, fisher-folk and shellfish farmers, vessel skippers and crew, and harbour users and masters, but ANYONE can participate.

How YOU Can Help: We need you to make some fairly basic observations on jellyfish whenever you can - even if they are just washed up on the beach - and then to enter that information on our website (http://sajellywatch.uwc.ac.za). The information we request includes: whether jellyfish are present or absent in your area, and if they are present how many do you see in a five minute period, and what sort of size or colour are they. It is the sort of information that is quick and easy to collect, remember or record and requires NO previous training.

The Website provides a guide to the common jellyfish that you are likely to see in the region (so if you can put a name to the animal you see on the shore even better!), a brief introduction to jellyfish diversity (Jellyfish 101), a glossary of terms and a simple key to major jellyfish groups. A general warning about jellyfish is provided, complete with useful contact numbers in the event of a medical emergency, and hazard warnings on the homepage also alert you to where recent (though unverified) sightings of potentially deadly species and other outbreaks have been made. There is an opportunity for you send us your photos of jellyfish so that we can try and identify them and give you some feedback. You can ask us questions about jellyfish and provide us with other relevant information. It is our eventual hope that you will be able to track your contributions and those of others using this website.

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