Last week we attended the 12th annual Jellyfish Jam at Karel’s Beach Bar. The evening’s host, and the founder of the Jellyfish Jam, was Bud Gillan. Bud is a jellyfish scientist, educator and co-leader of CIEE Bonaire’s High School Abroad program.
Eight to ten days after a full moon, the box jellyfish species Alatina alata swarms close to shore for purposes of reproduction. During the jellyfish jam, species are collected (with a permit) for research at CIEE.
Attendance was high this year, thanks in part to the contingent of high school students involved in CIEE’s High School Abroad Program. For some of these students, this program marked their first time learning about marine biology, and you can see the wild-eyed enthusiasm in their faces.
The crowd at this year’s Jellyfish Jam
Bud Gillan, left, instructs a student in proper handling of Alatina alata
CIEE students admiring a specimen
I couldn’t let the students have ALL of the fun, so I went in for a closer look.
Bud (left), me (right), Alatina (center)
Students also took part in the Jelly Jam by collecting the jellies from the water (aka, jellyfishing), using colanders.
It was so much fun for us to interact with and learn from these students. We met them a week prior when we gave a talk to them as part of their program. They came from all around the United States, as well as from Bonaire, to learn about marine biology and coral reefs. If their curiosity, intelligence and maturity is any indication of the traits of our future generation, we are in good hands.
Note: The sting of Alatina alata is dangerous and causes extreme pain. Do not seek out, touch or handle this species. In these photos, we are touching only the bell of the jellyfish under direct supervision of an experienced scientist. Do not do this on your own.