Characterization of Jellyfish Swarm Dynamics and Underlying Processes

Principal researcher: Prof. Daniel Sher

Research team: Prof. Tamar Lotan, Dr. Yoav Lehahn, Dr. Yaron Toledo, Prof. Hezi Gildor, Dr. Tamar Guy-Haim, Dr. Eli Biton.

Collaboration with the institutions: University of Haifa, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, IOLR

Our proposal included two main aims: 1) Mapping the time-varying distribution patterns of the swarms along the Mediterranean coast and characterizing the underlying processes; and 2) Identifying the environmental conditions leading to the demise of the bloom, testing the hypothesis that it is caused by bacterial pathogens. The proposed activities for the second year included mapping the jellyfish distributions, Lagrangian experiments, microbiome analyses and bacterial isolation. We have made significant progress in all of these goals: i) The distribution of the jellyfish along the coast has been mapped over June-July 2020 from manned flights; ii) More than 10 hours of videos have been acquired from low-altitude drones of the movement of the jellyfish compared to Lagrangian drifters, on five research cruises. iii) Samples were collected from >50 jellyfish over multiple locations, sizes and tissues. Robust methods were calibrated for 16S amplification, and an initial set of samples has been sequenced; iv) Methods have been developed for isolation of bacteria from jellyfish, with more than 80 strains currently undergoing analysis. More importantly, during this year we have established a strong interdisciplinary team including not only the PIs and their laboratories but also multiple other research groups from universities and research institutes in Israel. This has been leveraged to obtain additional funding from MERCI for ship-time and the use of new technologies such as gliders and radars.

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