2022-07-29 This week we toured Hiroshima University’s research vessel, the Toyoshio Maru. In Canada, it can be quite difficult to get ship time for research, so I was jealous that students in the [...]
Large aggregates of jellyfish, known as blooms, occur seasonally along the world’s coastlines. Jellyfish blooms cause economic and ecological destruction, especially in developing nations that cannot afford to suffer the economic consequences of blooms on tourism, fisheries, and industry, which amass millions of dollars in annual losses. Significant effort and funding are invested globally to mitigate the impacts of blooms, but the drivers of bloom size and success receives relatively little attention. Despite the free-swimming medusa morph being well-known because they compose blooms, the lesser-known polyp morph is the tiny, unassuming agent that determines the success of blooms. Polyp research is surprisingly under-represented in jellyfish literature considering that polyp success directly relates to the size and health of blooms. Through this Experiential Learning Program, I will visit the few polyp specialists in the world to learn about polyp research through hands-on research experience that simultaneously tackle ssome of the knowledge gaps that currently exist. My experience will include free-diving for polyps in French lagoons, sampling deadly jellyfish on an Australian reef, laboratory experiments in Argentina, and interactions with Japanese fishermen to learn about early detection systems. My experiences will allow me to transform Canadian jellyfish research, which is currently scarce. Canada is uniquely situated with the longest, undeveloped coastline in the world, which allows for wild jellyfish research in an environment that is relatively free from anthropogenic pressures. Research conducted in Canada will be globally relevant for solving bloom-related issues by developing new mitigation strategies through the conspicuous polyp.