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UNCW Helps Global Effort to Discover the Mysterious World of Jellyfish

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TWC News: UNCW Helps Global Effort to Discover the Mysterious World of Jellyfish
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WILMINGTON -- A professor at UNC-Wilmington is behind a Global Effort to better understand jellyfish blooms.

Professor Robert Condon said the perceptions that jellyfish are the cockroaches of the sea or they're the doom and gloom of the ocean are speculations.

"No one has done the analysis and certainly haven't created a baseline in terms of how many there are in the oceans," said Condon.

That's why he and team of researchers from around the world are collecting data on jellyfish.

"It's almost like a jellyfish census," said Condon.

While it's a daunting task, the information is going into JeDI. JeDi is the world's first jellyfish database.

"What eats a jellyfish is a key question. Turtles do, but I suspect fish do as well so there are important implications for fisheries management and conservation issues that we need to know more about, and so JeDI will be able to help out there," said Condon.

Student Laura Treible is using the database to figure out whether climate changes affect jellyfish blooms.

"They don't seem like much but they really have a lot going on, and it's really interesting to see how the populations can change over time," said Treible.

To help further develop the database, they're asking anyone who sees jellyfish while they're at the beach or on the water to take a picture, count how many there are, document where they are and send them the information.

"It's a large ocean, and it's really hard to sample all of the coastline let alone trying to sample the middle of the ocean. So with technology and smart phones and things like that, the public are the eyes of science," said Condon.

He expects the database to go live within the next month.

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