A jolly Jellyday!
Over 160 persons crowded the Israel
Oceanological and Limnological Research auditorium on 1 December
2011, filling it to capacity and more – students sat crossed legged
in front of the podium and mobbed the steps. It was JellyDay – the
first stakeholders meeting – brought together to discuss the
environmental, societal and economic challenges poised by the
swarms of alien invasive jellyfish.
Whereas most recurrent jellyfish outbreaks in the Mediterranean Sea
are made up of indigenous species, alien species have taken the
lead in the east: the SE Levant is unique in hosting four alien
scyphozoan jellyfish concurrently, in addition to two alien
The meeting opened with a short review of the history of the
records and spatial and temporal patterns of the alien jellyfish
off the Israeli coast (B. Galil), followed by presentation of
preliminary results of the usage of molecular tools in multiannual
analysis of the invasive scyphozoan Rhopilema nomadica off
the Israeli coast (B. Rinckevich and Y. Douek).
The distribution of Mnemiopsis leidyi was presented (D.
Edelist). Next we listened to fascinating and harrowing accounts of
the impacts of the gelatinous swarms on management of cooling
seawater systems in coastal power plants (A. Glaser), on a
desalinisation plant (Y. Egozi), and to trawl fisheries (S.
Azoulai). We learned of the economic implications of summer shoals
on the management of swimming beaches of Haifa, the health
challenges facing coastal first aid stations resulting from the
venomous stings and crowd management by lifeguards.
During the lunch break, conviviality was aided by the pleasantly
warm, sunny day, and the participants turned the courtyard
into impromptu mini-seminars. A sun-baked gnarled trawl skipper was
surrounded by students eager to hear first hand testimony of the
sea before the jellyfish invasions. The representative of the
Israel Electricity Company huddled with an importer of protective
netting, soaking coffee, sunshine and information. It was too
pleasant to break up, but returned we did to the auditorium, and
heard of plans of monitoring and management of the marine
environment to mitigate jellyfish swarming by the ‘Marine and
Coastal’ section of the ‘Ministry for Environmental Protection’ (G.
The last talk – and a fascinating one – was by a popular
journalist. A. Ben David assembled archival material to illustrate
how the local media has been treating the issue – influencing the
Dr. S. Wald,
the chief scientist of the ‘Ministry of Infrastructure’, summed up
the meeting and in his closing remarks highlighted the need for
closer cooperation between researchers, stakeholders, regulators
and the wider public. Participants were presented with a ‘goody’
bag containing a commemorative JellyT-shirt depicting the most
common species in the SE Levant, after an original design by a team
headed by N. Boero, Lecce University, and a participant of