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Second consecutive summer sighting of compass jellyfish

The compass jellyfish has again been spotted in local waters – this time at Żurrieq.

The compass jellyfish has again been spotted in local waters – this time at Żurrieq.

Reported for the first time in Maltese waters at Ramla l-Ħamra last year, the compass jellyfish (Chrysaora hysoscella) has now been spotted at Żurrieq by Adrian Fabri. He submitted a report on the sighting to the Spot the Jellyfish database (www.ioikids.net/jellyfish).

The compass jellyfish is very easily recognisable by its 16 brown V-shaped markings which radiate out from a central block spot on its umbrella, making it look like a compass.

According to Alan Deidun from the University’s Physical Oceanography Unit, which runs the Spot the Jellyfish campaign, the compass jellyfish is a stinging species common in the Atlantic and in the western half of the Mediterranean. It is found in Spanish, French and Italian waters, but to date very rarely in Maltese waters.

The compass jellyfish is closely related to the mauve stinger (Pelagia noctiluca), which is much more common in local waters, and its stings should be treated by applying ice packs wrapped in a towel or cloth (not directly on the skin) or by applying a baking soda slurry.

Stings should never be rubbed and should always be washed with seawater, never with fresh water.

As part of the Med-Jellyfish project ( http://jellyrisk/eu ), the Physical Oceanography Unit has published a jellyfish sting treatment booklet, which can be freely downloaded from http://193.188.45.233/ jellyfish/docs/firstaid.pdf.

The Spot the Jellyfish initiative is coordinated by staff at the International Ocean Institute-Malta Operational Centre at the University of Malta and is supported by the Malta Tourism Authority, Nature Trust, Friends of the Earth, Shark Lab and the Ekoskola and the Blue Flag Malta programmes.

The initiative follows a citizen science approach and relies on the collaboration of the public, seafarers, divers and especially youngsters – through their teachers and parents – who are encouraged to assist in recording the presence and location of different jellyfish by using a reporting leaflet.

The leaflet has been widely distributed, and can be downloaded from the website www.ioikids.net/jellyfish, which also contains snippets of information and anecdotes about different jellyfish species. With the support of MTA, large posters have also been put up on boards at major bays.

Reporting is done by matching the sighted jellyfish with a simple 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 a text message to 7960 4109 or to 7922 2278, or an e-mail message to [email protected].

Strange-looking jellyfish that are not included on the leaflet should be caught and kept in a bucketful of seawater prior to e-mailing Dr Deidun on alan.deidun@ um.edu.mt or other IOI-MOC staff to collect for definite identification of the species. If this is not possible, photos of the jellyfish should be taken and sent to the centre.

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