Observation of the Week, 1/27/2016

This Fried Egg Jellyfish seen by nilsradecker off of Sardinia, Italy is our Observation of the Week.

When asked how he became interested in wildlife, Nils Radecker replied “As Attenborough once pointed out, I believe this question is the wrong way around. All children are interested in nature, we just have to make sure not to lose this interest. I think getting out there and seeing it for yourself is all you need to do to keep this interest alive.” When he was a child, Nils’ parents took him to many places to see nature, and his passion for it has definitely not abated. Raised in Germany, he has observed wildlife around the world and is now studying coral reefs in Saudi Arabia for his PhD.

In 2013 his travels took him to Gennargentu National Park on the island of Sardinia and nearby Cala Goloritze bay. He and his marine biologist friends explored the “crystal clear water” which was filled with sea life. And at its outer reaches, “currents were bringing in all kinds of jellyfish into the bay. Among those the infamous Fried Egg Jellyfish (Cotylorhiza tuberculata).” Found only in the Mediterranean region, this jellyfish’s population reaches its peak in late summer and can be more easily seen close to shore during that time. “Of course,” says Nils, “we used this amazing opportunity for some pictures of this iconic species.”

Growing up near the ocean in Northern Germany, the marine world has always been a part of Nils’ life, and as he studied biology “it just became obvious that the marine environment is the biggest mystery we have left on our planet. So I was keen to go into the unknown and eventually ended up studying coral reefs.” His research focuses on coral bleaching (see photo above, showing Nils swimming over bleached coral in the Red Sea), which is a disruption between the “crucial symbiosis of corals and associated algae living in their tissue due to ocean warming.” He and his team are trying to understand the mechanism of coral bleaching and have recently discovered that bacteria are part of this process. They “hope that this may hold the key to preventing future coral bleaching. But unfortunately there’s still a lot of work ahead for us.”

Puzzled by how little was known about Saudi Arabia’s wildlife, Nils found iNaturalist when he was looking for a way he and his colleagues could record their everyday wildlife observations. He says, “I believe it’s the ideal platform to share this kind of knowledge with everyone. I sincerely hope I can convince more people in the region to use this tool to finally get an idea what is out there.”

- by Tony Iwane

photo of Nils by Claudia Pogoreutz


- Here’s an article recently published by Nils and his colleagues.

- Check out this video of a swimming Fried Egg Jellyfish.

- Another jellyfish, the Phacellophora camtschatica, is also called the Fried Egg Jellyfish, but it lives in colder waters and can grow to enormous proportions - its tentacles can reach 6 m (20 ft) long!

Posted by tiwane tiwane, January 27, 2016 14:52

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