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Workshop on Jellyfish Monitoring and Alerting

Point of contact
Andrea Taramelli
Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale
Via Vitaliano Brancati, 48
144 Roma
Phone: +39-6-50074635

In the last decade the presence of jellyfish in the Mediterranean Sea is rising causing impacts on the marine environment and on human activities (Copernicus Brief, issue 53, July 2015, Copernicus Observer 18/08/2017). The main consequences are related with human health (each summer about 150000 need medical assistance for jellyfish stings in the Mediterranean area), fishing (jellyfish block fishing nets impairing their functioning, and eat fish eggs and larvae, and their food), aquaculture (cultured fish), industry (blocking cooling inlets of industrial complexes and power plants). The causes of the rise of jellyfish are still manifold and ecosystem imbalances due to over-exploitation of the sea, and the rise in sea temperature due to climatic changes are probably the main drivers, together with increased space for polyp settlement due to coastal defences.

In order to mitigate this phenomenon a key strategy comprises the setting up of early warning and forecasting systems based on large scale observations and numerical model fields such as those available from the Copernicus products (EO and other data from the Marine Environment Monitoring Service). Copernicus satellite data products, in particular Sentinel-3, can assist jellyfish presence prediction by providing information on a range of physical and biological ocean parameters that favour jellyfish blooms, especially in terms of aggregation due to oceanographic conditions. Ocean temperature, salinity, water currents, sea-surface height, upwelling-events and primary production that strongly affect jellyfish biomass. Several citizen science based projects have been proposed in the Mediterranean Sea to collect data on jellyfish (Italian project “Occhio alla Medusa”, Maltese project “Spot the Jellyfish”, French project “SIMPLEX”).

The increase of jellyfish presence, in the Mediterranean Sea, is confirmed by the number of sightings which is increased from 300 (2009) to 3000 (2015) and from 140 proliferation to more than 1200 (Italian project “Occhio alla Medusa”).

The next steps lead to the development of tools to detect jellyfish blooms in the open sea, taking advantage of satellite data both to improve the detection and to identify the bloom. In this framework, a workshop will be organized to discuss the latest improvements in the detection, spreading and forecasting of jellyfish blooms, in order to compare different experiences on the use of Copernicus data, and to gather user requirements from the scientific community. The workshop will also be a platform to provide a way forward on this thematic. Moreover, a roundtable discussion of invited experts will be organised to deliver recommendations at the end of the workshop.

This action is coupled, in a synergic way, with actions 2019-2-43 and 2019-1-46, in order to exploit at maximum the possible outcomes of the three actions. Action 2019-2-44 will be carried out first, in order to explore the possible scientific innovative products. Then, action 2019-1-46 that will cover a broader set of issues related to bathing waters at national level will take into account outcomes of this action (2019-2-44) concerning the topic of jellyfish presence and will provide useful feedbacks for the development of action 2019-2-43. Last, action 2019-2-43 will develop products based on the scientific state of the art explored in this action (2019-2-44) and to national user requirements gathered with action 2019-1-46.

An international workshop will be organized in Italy. The event will be driven by already identified requirements and tools developed by previous projects.

Outputs and Results

  • Analysis of cross-cutting user requirements to address institutional and commercial downstream activities
  • inclusion of outcomes in a report published on the ISPRA website on a page dedicated to the workshop