Numerous bathers have submitted reports to the Spot the Jellyfish campaign in the last few days about the occurrence of the cigar jellyfish but the mauve stinger bloom which plagued Malta’s coastal waters in May and June largely subsided this month.
Alan Deidun from the IOI-MOC, who leads the Spot the Jellyfish campaign, said the cigar jellyfish was mainly reported at Ghadira, although it was known from most sheltered bays and harbours on the islands.
The cigar jellyfish is a species of hydromedusa which has a broad global distribution, being known from temperate Atlantic waters and the Mediterranean.
It inflicts a very mild sting which is not perceived by the majority of bathers so it is considered as a largely innocuous species. It is armed with a battery of relatively short tentacles and its radial canals are arranged in a distinctive red cross-like pattern.
Up to the early 1980’s, this species was much more common in local waters.
Dr Deidun siad that a charismatic species of jellyfish which is expected to make its debut in local waters this year is the fried egg jellyfish which normally makes its advent locally around mid-August. It is known as the fried egg jellyfish and also as tal-lampuki, since their appearance coincides with the start of the lampuki fishing season.
The Spot the Jellyfish initiative, which is coordinated by staff at the IOI-MOC at the University of Malta, is supported by the MTA, Nature Trust, Friends of the Earth, SharkLab, Ekoskola and the Blue Flag Malta programmes.
The initiative follows a citizen science approach and relies on the collaboration of the public, sea farers, divers, and youngsters – through their teachers and parents – who are encouraged to assist in recording the presence and location of different jellyfish through the use of a reporting leaflet.
The leaflet is widely distributed and can be downloaded. It contains snippets of information and anecdotes about different jellyfish species.
Reporting is done by matching the sighted jellyfish with a visual identification guide, giving the date and time of the sighting, and indicating the number of individuals seen.
Sightings can be reported online, or by sending an SMS to 7960 4109 or 7922 2278, or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Strange-looking jellyfish not included on the leaflet should be caught and kept in a bucketful of seawater prior to contacting Dr Deidun on e-mail email@example.com or other IOI-MOC staff to collect for definite identification.
If this is not possible, photos of the jellyfish should be taken and sent to the centre.
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