Pascal and Lisa- the Jellyfish hunters

June 23rd, 2017

(Image credits: Lisa Gershwin and Pascal Craw, CSIRO)

One of our active work packages within the coral reef test bed is looking to develop an early warning sensor for the presence of Irukandji jelly fish off of the coast. If successful this sensor could be subsequently modified to asses other species populations in marine environments. It is vital to the project to collect samples. When I was asked by the research team if they could travel to Ningaloo reef when they had heard reports there were jelly fish in the area, I approved the request and wished them good luck.

Lisa and Pascal in the field somewhere near Ningaloo Reef, WA

When that trip failed (where is a good Irukandji bloom when you want it) and the team asked to go to Hawaii, I asked for further justification.

It turns out that Irukandji appear on a lunar cycle and historical accounts have June as the peak month in Hawaii, conversely December is the peak month in Australia. So it made sense not to wait until December and delay the progress of the research. This time though I asked for a specimen…

From Lisa Gershwin:

“Aloha all! The experiment is going very well! We got somewhere in the vicinity of 2000 Irukandjis come in at Waikiki Beach last night, and expecting more tonight. Waikiki beaches are all closed, as are many others including the famous Hanauma Bay and Ala Moana, because of stings.

Pascal Craw in Hawaii alongside the jellyfish warning signs on closed beaches

We’ve been meeting with and working with a couple of local researchers, so that’s been good too. We are both a bit tired from working flat out long hours everyday plus working straight through last night until about 930am this morning. But we are totally excited: getting high quality samples exactly as we had hoped.

Photograph from Waikiki beach at 4am. That little smudge of pale blue light off to the right is Pascal sampling at the main study area.

And of course, this one’s yours, Danielle!”

Lisa Gershwin holding a jellyfish on a Hawaiian beach

I’m still waiting for my specimen to be delivered so I can show it to the chemists, material scientists and manufacturing folk who come past my office.. but glad that sending the team there has paid off.