It looks like a jellyfish but it is not: the sea nut invades the Adriatic. An App finds it

The “citizen scientists” set out in search of the Sea nut, an alien and invasive marine animal in the Mediterranean that at first sight may seem like a jellyfish but which, in fact, is not. All this is possible thanks to Sight App, a smartphone application that allows you to record a large number of marine species: jellyfish, ctenophores, dolphins, turtles.

They have been sighted in the Mediterranean for some years now and are among the 100 most invasive animal species in the world. Sea nuts (Mnemiopsis leidyi) represent a danger to the Mare Nostrum. Originally from the Atlantic, they would have arrived through the ballast water of tankers and, thanks to their great reproductive capacity, have multiplied dramatically. It is a hermaphrodite species which, thanks to its prolificacy, can threaten the habitat. The sea nut, which at first glance can be confused with a jellyfish but which is in fact a ctenophore, precisely because it is greedy for zooplankton, can have a direct effect on the sustainability of the sea. Today the “citizen scientists” are looking for this alien and invasive animal. All this is possible thanks to Avvistapp, a smartphone application that allows you to record a large number of marine species: jellyfish, ctenophores, dolphins, turtles. The initiative was born at the behest of the National Institute of Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics of Trieste and one of its researchers, Valentina Tirelli, a naturalist who studies zooplankton, thanks to funding from the Autonomous Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. The App, developed by the Trieste-based company Divulgando, also sees the collaboration of the Aps Delta “Dolphins and turtles in the Gulf of Trieste”. The application is available for free for smartphones with both the iOS and Android operating systems, and allows citizens to actively participate in the collection of information on sightings, both photographically and with a simple description. Avvistapp allows you to support research for monitoring the presence of the sea nut in the Adriatic Sea. The sea nut causes blooms, huge swarms of specimens that fill the water. The data collected with Sight App will also be used to follow their invasion during the coldest months of the year, when this animal seems to disappear only apparently. In addition to the sea nut, with Avvistapp citizens can send reports of other species, such as jellyfish, dolphins and turtles, providing essential information for assessing the state of the sea. “It is a very invasive species seen since 2016 in the Adriatic. It is one of the great problems of the sea we have – Tirelli explains to Kodami – We do not know if it is already destroying the habitat but what we do know is that it is a super predator, it eats zooplankton and potentially fish eggs and larvae. It is a hermaphrodite and it reproduces a lot. In the laboratory we put one in a jar and in one night it laid over 13,000 eggs. Studying the sea nut is very difficult and the research work is made easier thanks to the reports of the citizens ».


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