Monday, November 14, 2011

Clare and the jellyfish

Today, let's talk with Clare.

Clare is a PhD student from St. Andrew's University in Scotland. This expedition is her first research cruise.
She is interested in jellyfish and more generally in pelagic ecology.
Jellyfish are members of the gelatinous zooplankton (animals that live in the open water and are at the mercy of the currents).

So why do we care about jellyfish? They have important impacts on human activities: negatively affecting important tourist beaches (with their sometimes painful and even deadly stings!), clogging fishermens' nets, and competing with commercially-important fishes for food. But they also have often overlooked positive impacts – providing shelter for young fish in the open ocean and apparently make a tasty satay in Asian cookery!

Clare is hoping to use acoustics echoes to detect them and other zooplankton in the water column, which means we send a sound through the water and measure the echo we get back at the ship after its reflection on the animal. Also we will be putting out nets in the ocean to collect organisms that she will identify and analyse later. Who knows what we will find!