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Daily Archives: 25. January 2017 − News & Stories

“Prin­cess of Dark­ness” dis­co­ver­ed in Ny Åle­sund

For some rese­ar­chers in Spits­ber­gen, the­re is not­hing more exci­ting in win­ter than lying in the dark and cold for hours on a floa­ting pon­toon and illu­mi­na­te the sup­po­sedly dark, lifel­ess sea with a torch. The sea in the polar­night is not as lifel­ess as one might think. Now, rese­ar­chers have even dis­co­ver­ed a new spe­ci­es for Spits­ber­gen: the Hel­met Jel­ly­fi­sh (Peri­phyl­la peri­phyl­la) appeared a few days ago sud­den­ly in the torch light of rese­ar­cher San­na Maja­n­eva.

San­na Maja­n­eva explo­res life in the sea in the dark sea­son in the north of Spits­ber­gen. Tog­e­ther with the two pro­fes­sors of mari­ne bio­lo­gy Jør­gen Ber­ge and Geir John­sen from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Trom­sø (UiT) and the Nor­we­gi­an Uni­ver­si­ty of Sci­ence and Tech­no­lo­gy (NTNU), she sur­pri­sin­gly caught the jel­ly­fi­sh, which is now being inves­ti­ga­ted more clo­se­ly.

The Hel­met Jel­ly­fi­sh, which can be up to 30 cen­ti­me­ters big, is actual­ly a very light-sen­si­ti­ve deep sea jel­ly­fi­sh and comes only to the water sur­face at night. A night that lasts for seve­ral months must be pret­ty con­ve­ni­ent for such a jel­ly­fi­sh. The “prin­cess of dark­ness” has a red­dish body that glows from the insi­de; it can be up to 30 years old, which is not bad at all for a jel­ly­fi­sh.

Loves the dark­ness: Hel­met Jel­ly­fi­sh © Geir John­sen, NTNU/Unis

Helmet Jellyfish

A reason for the appearance of the Hel­met Jel­ly­fi­sh in Spitsbergen’s coas­tal waters could be that incre­asing­ly war­mer waters are pres­sed from the Atlan­tic to the north, as Pro­fes­sor Jør­gen Ber­ge is reaso­ning. This phe­no­me­non is also respon­si­ble for the fact that both Isfjord and Kongsfjord have remain­ed lar­ge­ly ice-free in recent win­ters.

On the coast of the Nor­we­gi­an main­land, the Hel­met Jel­ly­fi­sh has been gro­wing in ever lar­ger quan­ti­ties for seve­ral years and it has been affec­ting the eco­sys­tem the­re. It feeds on krill and small fish and seems to dri­ve away many fish from the fjords.

“The appearance of the Hel­met Jel­ly­fi­sh is a war­ning that a sys­tem is chan­ging, and we will gra­du­al­ly dis­co­ver new spe­ci­es here in the north, and form­er­ly local spe­ci­es may retre­at or dis­ap­pear”, fears Pro­fes­sor Jør­gen Ber­ge.

But per­haps a new source of food can also be dis­co­ver­ed: in Asia, the Hel­met Jel­ly­fi­sh is a healt­hy deli­ca­cy, sin­ce it con­ta­ins iod­i­ne, iron and cal­ci­um. The Hel­met Jel­ly­fi­sh should be good for the blood cir­cu­la­ti­on and a beau­tiful skin. Well then: Enjoy your meal!

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten


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