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Explore an Ocean of Information at Saturday’s ‘Jellyfish Rock’

Free event at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History brings in researchers from around the world

UCSB’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis will share with the Santa Barbara community short talks, video presentations and more about jellyfish at “Jellyfish Rock: Reaching Out to Community & Kids” from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20 at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

The free family event will focus on the good and the bad about jellyfish, and their importance to coastal communities such as Santa Barbara and for ocean ecosystems around the world.

“We are excited to see this coming through,” said Dr. Carlos Duarte, research professor at CSIC in Spain and a member of the Global Jellyfish Blooms working group at NCEAS, an ecological research group based in Santa Barbara. “Our working group includes some of the top jellyfish ecologists and biologists in the world, and it is great to have the opportunity to share some of our knowledge with the citizens.”

Dr. Rob Condon, one of 11 international researchers included in Saturday’s event, will discuss whether jellyfish are increasing globally. But a lot of topics will be covered, including “what is a jellyfish,” Duarte said.

Dr. Cathy Lucas will talk about the basic biology and diversity of jellyfish, and Dr. Kylie Pitt will speak about the nuisances jellyfish generate but also the opportunities and services they deliver.

“We want people to think of jellyfish in a more balanced way,” Duarte said. “Not just as a nuisance, but as a source of biotechnological solutions and wonderful organisms with complex and unique life histories that are wonderful to observe.”

He said the research on jellyfish has “generated diagnostic tools” that have saved thousands of people’s lives.

The audience will have the opportunity to ask questions of the scientists, and Dr. Larry Madin, vice president of research at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, will be interviewed on the stage.

In addition, filmmaker Jim Knowlton of Blue Ocean Productions will debut his new short film, Come Dive with Jellyies. Click here to view the YouTube version.

“This short film shows an amazing collection of images and video of jellies collected from scientists around the world by Robin Vercruze of NCEAS, Kelly Sutherland of California Institute of Technology and Rob Condon of Dauphin Island Sea Lab,” Knowlton said. “In addition, I’ve included high-definition jellyfish video from my own underwater stock footage library.”

A pre-event will present a contest of art submitted from all over the world. More than 550 entries were received from children age 12 or younger from 14 countries and the United States.

“I would like to encourage people to look out at the ocean,” Duarte said. “Knowing is a prerequisite for loving and caring.”

Noozhawk intern Eri Arai is a journalism student at SBCC.

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