Category Archives: NorHydro

NorHydro in South Africa: the 6th International Jellyfish Blooms Symposium

The 6th International Jellyfish Blooms Symposium was the last big academic event in 2019 attended by team NorHydro, and we were very happy to have presented our project in such a relevant meeting!

Team NorHydro at the 6th Jellyfish Blooms Symposium, from left to right: Maciej Mańko (University of Gdansk – Poland), Aino Hosia (UiB – UMB), Joan J. Soto (UiB – Sars Center), and Luis Martell (UiB – UMB).

In many ways, the Jellyfish Bloom Symposium (JBS) is the most important meeting of scientists working with medusozoans in the world. Professionals from different countries, backgrounds and lines of research meet every 3 years in this symposium to present their results, discuss new findings, and chat with colleagues about the state of knowledge in the group. So of course our Artsdatabanken project NorHydro had to be present, especially after a session focused on polyps was announced for this particular edition. The importance of polyp stages – the object of study of NorHydro – is now widely recognized in jellyfish biology, and understanding the ecology and diversity of polyps has become a key point in the study of jellyfish blooms.

This time, it was the turn of the University of the Western Cape, Iziko South African Museum and the Two Oceans Aquarium to host the JBS, which was held in Africa for the first time.

Iziko Museum was the venue for the oral presentations and poster sessions. The way to the auditorium was marked by jellyfish but we still had to pass under the vigilant eyes of a giraffe.

The city of Cape Town provided a beautiful setting for discussions on gelatinous matters and sharing of jellyfish-related stories, and we even got to see some of the local hydrozoans from the surroundings, both in the aquarium and in the sea.

Not everyone was happy with the high concentration of jellyfish researchers in Table Mountain. Photo: Joan J. Soto Àngel

We were lucky to see some hydrozoans by the sea. Several specimens of the siphonophore Physalia physalis (top left) and the anthoathecate Velella velella (top right) were stranded in Diaz Beach, near the Cape of Good Hope (bottom).

The oral presentations and poster sessions covered many subjects on jellyfish biology, not only the dynamics of polyps but also the relationship between jellyfish and humans, the role of jellyfish in the ecosystem, and the diversity of medusa, ctenophores and salps.

Overall, the participation of NorHydro in the JBS was very succesful. We received positive feedback about the results presented, and people were very interested in our upcoming activities, particularly the course on hydrozoan biology and diversity (read more and apply here).

All the participants of the 6th Jellyfish Blooms Symposium

NorHydro was so warmly welcomed that we are already looking forward to sharing more about the hydrozoans of Norway in the next JBS in 2022!

– Luis

Keep up with NorHydro in Facebook and in Twitter with hashtag #NorHydro.

Research Internship – Francesco

In the last part of 2019 Francesco Golin collaborated with us as an intern in project NorHydro. Francesco is a student at the University of Algarve, where he is enrolled in the International Master of Science in Marine Biological Resources (IMBRSea). We asked him about his internship and this is what he told us:

During the 2019 autumn semester I joined Luis Martell and Aino Hosia in project NorHydro as a research intern. My research contribution was aimed at finding how many species of the hydrozoan genus Euphysa are present in Norwegian waters, and how to define them morphologically and genetically. Euphysa is a common genus with 22 accepted species, but many of them are not easy to tell apart from each other, which is why we decided to implement an integrative approach for species delimitation including morphological and molecular analyses.

Some of the species of Euphysa occurring in Norway. From left to right: Euphysa aurata, Euphysa flammea, and Euphysa sp

Working on board during the cruise

My first mission as an intern was collecting some samples of Euphysa and other gelatinous organisms. Luckily, the opportunity to do so presented itself during the student cruise associated to BIO325, a course in which I participated as part of my studies at UiB.

During this cruise I used a light table to spot the tiny jellyfishes brought on board by the Multinet, then I placed them on a Petri dish and took pictures of them with a camera attached to a stereomicroscope, before transferring them to an Eppendorf tube filled with ethanol.

All these elements (the pictures of each organism, the associated sampling data, and the samples themselves) are needed for species delimitation of hydromedusae. The pictures are used to compare the morphology of different individuals and to identify important diagnostic characters (unfortunately, ethanol-fixed jellyfish are not useful for morphological analysis), while the ethanol-preserved samples are used to obtain DNA sequences.

The light table used to spot the gelatinous zooplankton

Some siphonophore parts are very transparent, and thus they are some of the most difficult animals to spot in plankton samples.

The hydrozoan Aglantha digitale (left) was very abundant in all my samples. Other cnidarians, such as this anthozoan larva (right) were also present.

My second mission consisted on gathering the original descriptions of the different species of Euphysa. This information is necessary if we want to understand what makes each species different, and will come handy when analyzing the individuals and their pictures collected on the field. Talking about species boundaries, I had the opportunity to attend a course on “Molecular Species Delimitation” offered by the University Museum. In this course I learned how to perform the analysis of DNA sequences for species delimitation, using some common software (MEGA and R) for this purpose. These are important tools that will allow us to assess the diversity of Euphysa in Norway, and together with the morphological analyses these data will help us determine if new species have to be described.

Now the semester has ended and my internship is over. Nevertheless, I hope my help was meaningful, as I want to continue being a part of this research project in the future. I will keep myself updated with the changes in the taxonomy of Euphysa, so I’m sure I will be able to join NorHydro again when I’ll come back to Bergen!

-Francesco

Field season’s end

Sletvik field station, October 15th-23rd 2019

We wanted to make a write-up of the last combined fieldwork/workshop we had in 2019, which was a trip to the marine field station of NTNU, Sletvik in Trøndelag, in late October. From Bergen, Luis (NorHydro), Jon, Tom, and Katrine (Hardbunnsfauna) stuffed a car full of material, microscopes, and drove the ~12 hours up to the field station that we last visited in 2016.Beautiful fall in Trøndelag

There we joined up with Torkild, Aina, Karstein, and Tuva from NTNU university museum, students August and Marte, and Eivind from NIVA. We also had some visitors; Hauk and Stine from Artsdatabanken came by to visit (if you read Norwegian, there’s a feature about it here), and Per Gätzschmann from NTNU UM dropped by for a day to photograph people in the field.

Most of the workshop participants lined up Photo: Hauk Liebe, Artsdatabanken

During a productive week the plan was to work through as much as possible of the material that we and our collaborators had collected from Kristiansand in the South to Svalbard in the North. Some of us went out every day to collect fresh material in the field close to the station.The Artsprosjekts #Sneglebuss, Hardbunnsfauna, NorHydro, and PolyPort gathered at Sletvik, and with that also the University museums of Trondheim and Bergen. Of course we were also collecting for the other projects, and the museum collections.

One of the things Hardbunnsfauna wanted to do whilst in Sletvik was to pick out interesting specimens to submit for DNA barcoding. This means that the animals need to be sorted from the sediment, the specimens identified, and the ones destined to become barcode vouchers must be photographed and tissue sampled, and the data uploaded to the BOLD database. We managed to complete three plates of gastropods, select specimens for one with bivalves, and begin on a plate of echinoderms, as well as sort through and select quite a few crustaceans and ascidians for further study.

Collecting some fresh material was particularly important for NorHydro because the hydroids from the coasts of Trøndelag have not been thoroughly studied in recent years, and therefore we expected some interesting findings in the six sites we managed to sample. We selected over 40 hydrozoan specimens for DNA barcoding, including some common and widespread hydroids (e.g. Dynamena pumila), some locally abundant species (e.g. Sarsia lovenii) and exceptionally rare taxa, such as the northernmost record ever for a crawling medusa (Eleutheria dichotoma). We also used a small plankton net to catch some of the local hydromedusae, and found many baby jellyfish belonging to genus Clytia swimming around the field station.

Plan B when the animals (in this case Leuckartiara octona) won’t cooperate and be documented with the fancy camera; bring out the cell phones!

It was a busy week, but combining several projects, bringing together material spanning all of Norway, and working together like this made it extremely productive!

Thank you  very much to all the participants, and to all the people who have helped us gather material so far!

-Katrine & Luis

Invertebrates in harbours

Harbours and marinas are interesting places to look for marine creatures. These environments are usually teeming with life, but a closer look often reveals that their communities are strikingly different from the ones living in adjacent natural areas. Piers and pontoons offer new surfaces for many algae and animals to grow, and the maritime traffic of large and small boats allow for an intense movement of organisms, making harbours some of the preferred spots for newcomers (what we called introduced species) to settle. Many surprises can be expected when sampling for invertebrates in these man-made habitats, which is why our artsprosjekt NorHydro teamed up with project PolyPorts (based at the NTNU University Museum) to explore the hidden diversity of worms and hydroids in the Norwegian harbours.

I was very happy to collect polyps in sunny Southern Norway.

Last year, PolyPorts sampled extensively in some of the main Norwegian harbours (including Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, and Stavanger); but for this year’s sampling season our two projects headed first south (to the harbours and marinas of Sørlandet), and then west (to Bergen).

In the south, we sampled several ports and marinas from Kristiansand to Brevik (including Lillesand, Grimstad, Tvedestrand, and Risør, thus covering a large portion of southern Norway). In Vestlandet we concentrated our efforts in the area of the port of Bergen, Puddefjorden and Laksevåg, as well as Dolvika.

 

Although it could be surprising that heavily trafficked (and sometimes quite polluted) harbours support a high diversity of invertebrates, this was actually the case for every single port we surveyed.

All our sampling areas had pontoon pilings and mooring chains covered in colourful seaweeds and animals, and reefs of native and introduced mussels and oysters that provided a home for sea squirts, skeleton shrimps, bryozoans and hydroids. For NorHydro, perhaps the most surprising result came from the brackish areas that we analyzed, where large populations of Cordylophora caspia were found. This species is not native to Norway and had not been observed in so many Norwegian localities before, making for an interesting finding to explore even further through the analysis of DNA.

– Luis

Keep up with the activities of NorHydro here in the blog, on the project’s facebook page and in Twitter with the hashtag #NorHydro.

Many hands (plus some tentacles and legs) make light work

In the last months, our project NorHydro has been very busy with sampling trips and outreach; we have been collecting hydroids in Southern Norway, presenting our results in festivals, and hunting for hydrozoans inside mythical monsters as well as around Bergen, the project’s hometown. All of these activities sound like a lot of work, and they certainly take a fair amount of time and effort, but the good thing is that NorHydro has never been alone in its quest for knowledge of the marine creatures: on the contrary, this has been the season of collaborations and synergies for our project!

At the end of August, for example, we attended the marine-themed festival Passion for Ocean; where we shared the stand of the University Museum of Bergen with a bunch of colleagues, all working on several kinds of marine creatures, from deep sea worms and sharks to sea slugs and moss-animals. It was a great opportunity to talk to people outside academia (including children!) about our work at the museum, and also to show living animals to an audience that does not venture too often into the sea.

Our stand at the Passion for Ocean festival was incredibly popular with the public – we feel like most of the 5-6000 people who attended P4O must have dropped by to talk to us! Photos: K. Kongshavn and M. Hosøy

Although most of the people in Bergen are familiar with jellyfish, very few of them would know that most jellies are produced by flower-looking animals living in the bottom of the ocean, so the participation of NorHydro was met with a lot of surprise and curiosity. The festival was a big success (you can read a more about the experience in the Norwegian version of the blog), and hopefully we will get the chance to join again next year.

 

 

 

Later on, in September, we set off for a field trip to the northerly area of Saltstraumen, in the vicinity of the Arctic city of Bodø. For this trip NorHydro was again in collaboration with the UMB-based project “Hardbunnfauna” (Jon and Katrine represented the hard-bottom dwelling invertebrate fauna scientists) and also with Torkild Bakken (from NTNU University Museum, with his project “#Sneglebuss”). For me, Saltstraumen was definitely an exciting place to go; the strong currents of Saltstraumen have been the cause of death of too many sailors and seamen in the past, so in the collective mind the area has become some sort of man-eating whirlpool similar to the Mediterranean Charybdis… I don’t get to sample inside a mythological creature very often! Underneath the water though, Saltstraumen is teeming with life.

Saltstraumen looks stunning and inviting when seen from the coast.

Sampling the littoral zone within the Polar Circle

During this trip, we were prepared to sample in the littoral zone (and we did), but more importantly we were lucky enough to meet several enthusiast citizen and professional scientists that were diving in the area and shared with us some of their observations.

We were treated to extremely nice underwater pictures of invertebrates by Bernard Picton and Erling Svensen, and all the participants in the activities of the local diving club (Saltstraumen Dykkecamp) were very keen in providing us with suggestions, animals, images and impressions that made our sampling trip a total success.

 

The area was dubbed as a “hydroid paradise” (likely due to the strong currents that favor the development of large hydrozoan colonies), and many new records and even perhaps new species are present in the region.

For those of you that know Norwegian, you can read another interesting account of our trip here, and there is even a small service covering our adventures filmed by the regional TV channel NRK Nordland here.

The TV service is worth a look to see the beautiful underwater images of the Norwegian coast even if you’re not familiar with the language!

– Luis

Royal hydrozoans and noble snails at Her Majesty the Queen of the fjords

As part of our continuous quest for hydrozoans and snails, we (Luis and Justine) recently embarked on a trip to the mighty Hardangerfjord on board the RV Hans Brattström. This is an area that we at the museum are keen to explore, since there have not been many sampling efforts in Hardanger in recent years, at least not after the joint survey carried out in the years 1955–1963 and in which Hans Brattström himself (the scientist, not the ship) took part. The Hardangerfjord has changed a lot since the 1960s, developing into one of the major fish-farming regions of Norway while at the same time retaining its touristic and agricultural vocation, so it is very interesting to come back and see if and how the invertebrate communities have also changed.

Our trip started with warm summer temperatures and clear skies…

…but it quickly turned into a more ‘typical’ western Norwegian weather. Fortunately we were prepared for the rain!

The Queen of the fjords, as Hardangerfjord is sometimes known, is the second longest fjord in Norway and the fourth longest in the world, which means that we had quite a lot of ground to cover in our two day-trip if we wanted to have at least a brief look at the diversity of habitats and animals living in its waters. For this trip, we settled for a sampling scheme involving 9 stations distributed in the middle and outer parts of Hardanger, and we decided to leave the innermost part of the fjord for a future occasion. We looked at the animals living in the bottom of the fjord (benthos), the water column (plankton) and also deployed a couple of traps in order to catch specific critters. We explored rocky sites, sandy bottoms, muddy plains and kelp beds, and found an interesting array of animals in all our samples.

The samples came from the deployed amphipod traps, triangular dredge, and plankton net.

Some of the animals we saw (most of them were actually returned to the sea):

Without any doubt, the highlights of our trip were the snail Scaphander lignarius and the hydrozoans Eudendrium sp. and Laodicea sp. The colonies of Eudendrium sp. were relatively abundant in shell- and rock-dominated bottoms, but their small size and not reproductive status prevented us from identifying them to species level right away. For a correct identification, we now have to look closely at the stinging cells (nematocysts) of the hydroids, and of course we will also try to get the DNA barcode of some of the specimens. Unlike Eudendrium sp., which lives in the bottom of the sea, our specimens of Laodicea sp. were swimming around in the water column. This species is interesting because previous DNA analysis have shown that, although they look like each other, different species of Laodicea coexist in Norwegian waters, so we are looking forward to obtain the DNA barcode of the jellies from Hardanger to compare it with the sequences we have from other parts of Norway.

. A polyp of Eudendrium sp. (left) and the hydromedusa of Laodicea sp. (right)

Scaphander lignarius was quite the surprise finding. We really wanted to collect some individuals, but our hopes were not very high and we were mostly convinced that we would not see any during our trip. Luckily for us, there were several of them happily crawling around the mud in two of our stations! S. lignarius is one of the few representatives of the Scaphandridae family in Norway. This family of bubble snails is of particular interest to us to study the biogeography and speciation process of invertebrates in the deep sea on a worldwide scale, since members of the family are distributed all around the world, and most tend to inhabit depths below 500m. Sampling some of them will definitely help that project!

Two views of Scaphander lignarius

All around, this was a quite successful sampling trip, with many specimens collected to be added to the Museum Collections, and which will be very useful to many different research projects!

– Justine and Luis

PS: You can find more updates on our Artsdatabanken project NorHydro here in the blog, on the project’s facebook page and in Twitter with the hashtag #NorHydro.

 References and related literature about the survey of the Hardangerfjors in 1955–1963

Braarud T (1961) The natural history of the Hardangerfjord, Sarsia, 1:1, 3-6.

Brattegard T (1966) The natural history of the Hardangerfjord 7. Horizontal distribution of the fauna of rocky shores, Sarsia, 22:1, 1-54.

Lie U (1967) The natural history of the Hardangerfjord 8. Quantity and composition of the zooplankton, September 1955 – September 1956, Sarsia, 30:1, 49-74.

NorHydro in Japan: chronicles of the 9th Workshop of the Hydrozoan Society

Team NorHydro at the 9th Hydrozoan Society Workshop, from left to right: Joan J. Soto (UiB – Sars Center), Aino Hosia (UiB – UMB), Marta Ronowicz (IOPAN – Poland), and Luis Martell (UiB – UMB). Picture: Mitsuko Hidaka

Earlier this summer, the small Japanese cities of Enoshima and Shimoda became the chosen scenario for the celebration of the 9th Workshop of the Hydrozoan Society, one of the most important meetings of hydrozoan scientists in the world.

We were constantly amazed by the beauty of Japanese writing, and were happy to receive name tags with our names in katakana. During the workshop we also learned some important hydrozoan-related words in Japanese

 

This workshop is held every 3-4 years, and it offers everyone attending the opportunity to present his or her results, discuss new findings, collect some samples, and meet with other specialists in the group. Our Artsdatabanken project NorHydro is all about hydrozoans, so of course we could not miss this important event!

 

 

Selecting Enoshima and Shimoda as the venues for the workshop was a very fortunate decision. These cities are located in the area of the historically important Sagami Bay, where numerous studies of hydrozoans have taken place and from where many species of hydroids and hydromedusae have been described, which helped make this meeting a commemoration of previous hydrozoan studies in Japan.

Several renowned marine biologists, including Uchida, Yamada, and the late Emperor Hirohito dedicated their time and effort to study the hydrozoans of Sagami Bay, so during the workshop we felt like we were following their steps while collecting animals and comparing results.

The workshop included several different activities.

In Enoshima we visited the aquarium (just like Emperor Hirohito did many times) and we got to know the facilities where hydromedusae are kept and raised.

In Shimoda we went on and into the water to look for hydroids, hydromedusae and siphonophores that we then identified at the laboratories of the Shimoda Marine Research Center of Tsukuba University.

Also in Shimoda we sampled at the local aquarium, and it was in this city where the talks and poster sessions were held.

The workshop started with a visit to Enoshima Aquarium…

All in all, the participation of NorHydro in the workshop was very productive. We came back home with more than 30 samples that we will analyze and use to answer some questions that we are currently working on (did you know, for example, that the Japanese specimens of Nanomia bijuga may actually belong to a different species? We’ll see what our results suggest about this!).

We also received very positive feedback about the works we presented during the meeting, and we established some important collaborations with other hydrozoologists.

Some of the critters we observed during our time in Japan:

An even more exciting result of our participation was that the presidency of the Hydrozoan Society has now come to Norway, and NorHydro will be in charge of organizing the next Hydrozoan Society Workshop here in Bergen!

The Norwegian delegation, prepared for organizing the next Hydrozoan Society Workshop

– Luis

PS: Pictures of all the activities during the workshop can be found on the official facebook page of the Hydrozoan Society, and the entire event was tweeted with the hashtags #9HSworkshop, #HydrozoanSociety and #NorHydro.

 

Some hydroids, four naturalists, and a small island in the North Sea

NorHydro partner (and hydrozoan expert) Joan J. Soto Àngel from the Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology went in a sampling trip to Kinn to collect benthic hydroids. Here is an account of his experience in this trip:

Kinn is a small grassy island on the western Norwegian coast. Today it is a quiet, peaceful place with only a few inhabitants, but in the past it was an important fishing town and the center of the cultural and religious life of the area, as evidenced by its imposing medieval stone church (Kinnakyrkja). The island is also a place of historical relevance for biologists, since it is intimately tied to the life and discoveries of one of the most prominent naturalists of the XIX century, Michael Sars, who worked as a priest in Kinnakyrkja for many years.

Here I am, ready to sample! The island behind is Kinn, easy to recognize thanks to its characteristic cleft silhouette. Picture: Cessa Rauch

The islands in the area face the ocean and are rather exposed, so the vegetation is not particularly tall, but the waters are teeming with life. Picture: Joan J. Soto

The XIX century Norwegian naturalist Michael Sars. Picture from Wikicommons (public domain)

Sars described many species inhabiting the waters around Kinn and also made key observations about their distribution and life cycle. Indeed, he was the first to discover that jellyfish and polyps are in fact different stages of the same animals!

This finding led him to be recognized as an outstanding zoologist of his time. Even now, ca 200 years after, his extensive work is regularly consulted by researchers of many fields. Like me and the other participants of the Artsdatabanken project NorHydro, Sars was fascinated by the group we call Hydrozoa, which is why it was very interesting for our project to join a sampling trip of the University Museum of Bergen in the same waters where he sampled and described many hydroids, hydromedusae and siphonophores.

Because Sars was also interested in other critters of the sea besides hydrozoans, it was only natural to make this sampling trip a joint, collaborative effort. In our case, three marine scientists were involved, each representing a different project: I was in charge of the hydrozoans for NorHydro, while Anne Helene Solberg Tandberg focused on amphipods (NorAmph2) and Cessa Rauch concentrated on sea slugs (Sea Slugs of Southern Norway). But we did not limit ourselves to our favorite animal groups; we also sampled some poychaetes, bryozoans, ascidians and echinoderms for two other projects based at UMB, Hardbunnsfauna and AnDeepNor. In addition, while we sampled extensively the waters around Kinn, we also stopped in the way to the island and back and collected some animals in two other localities in the coast of Sogn og Fjordane. Our efforts paid off and, despite some windy weather, we came home with many specimens to analyze and samples to sort.

Three more contemporary naturalists working for different projects: Joan (left, NorHydro), Cessa (middle, Sea Slugs of Southern Norway), and Anne Helene (right, NorAmph2). Picture: Joan J. Soto

For the hydrozoans, the majority of samples consisted in colonies of hydroids belonging to the families Sertulariidae, Haleciidae and Campanulariidae. This was not surprising as Sertulariidae (sensu lato) is the largest and most diverse family in all Hydrozoa, and their conspicuous colonies are relatively easy to recognize and collect. The haleciids are represented in Norway mainly by species of Halecium, whose colonies are among the largest benthic hydrozoans of the country. As for the campanulariids, particularly those belonging to genera Obelia, Laomedea and Clytia, they are common inhabitants of rocky and mixed bottoms all around the world, and are especially conspicuous when growing on macroalgae such as kelp. To correctly identify some of these specimens, we will look closely at their morphological characteristics and will also employ molecular techniques of DNA analysis. Hopefully this approach will help us understand the diversity of benthic hydroids living around Kinn, and will allow us to determine whether the species that we encountered are the same that Sars studied.

Dynamena pumila was one of the most conspicuous species of hydroid that we collected in this trip. It belongs to the speciose family Sertulariidae.

We were very lucky to have the help of the crew of RV Hans Brattström. This is how the command center of the boat looks like!

You’ll find the results of these and other NorHydro’s analyses here in the blog as we progress, and more updates on the project can be found on the Hydrozoan Science facebook page and in Twitter with the hashtag #NorHydro.

– Joan


References and related literature about Michael Sars

Tandberg AHS, L Martell (2018) En uimodstaaelig lyst til naturens studium. Yearbook of the University Museum of Bergen: 17 – 26.

Sars M (1835) Beskrivelser og Iagttagelser over nogle mærkelige eller nye i Havet ved den Bergenske Kyst levende Dyr af polypernes, acalephernes, radiaternes, annelidernes, og molluskernes classer. Thorstein Hallagers forlag, Bergen.

Windsor MP (1976) Starfish, jellyfish and the order of life. Issues in Nineteenth-Century Science. Yale University Press, New Haven. 228 pp

NorHydro goes back to school

To the Research School in Biosystematics (ForBio), that is!

Last April, NorHydro participated in two events organized by ForBio (who is actually one of the partners of our project): the 2019 Annual ForBio Meeting and the ForBio and MEDUSA course “Zooplankton Communities – Taxonomy and Methods”. Both events were very productive and fun, here is the story:

The 2019 Annual ForBio Meeting was held in Trondheim. Many high-quality talks were delivered during this meeting and NorHydro received useful feedback from students and consolidated scientists from all the Nordic countries. It was particularly important for NorHydro to be present at the annual meeting, because together with ForBio we are planning a course on hydrozoan diversity and phylogeny in 2020, so the meeting in Trondheim was the perfect vehicle to advertise both the course and the activities and expected outcomes of the project.

I did not see any hydroid in Trondheim during the meeting, but the trees in the city center looked suspiciously like colonies of Obelia dichotoma. Pictures: Luis Martell

In addition to NorHydro, the University Museum of Bergen attended the meeting with interesting talks from some of our PhD students and guests, presenting diverse subjects as the phylogeny of the plant genus Potentilla (by Nannie Persson), morphological data of the polychaete family Lumbrineridae (by Polina Borisova), and the diversity of the marine snail genus Scaphander (by Justine Siegwald).

Snapshots of two of the UMB talks during the annual meeting: Luis presenting NorHydro (left) and Justine explaining the mysteries of Scaphander (right). Pictures: Nannie Persson

Later in the month, Aino, Joan and I participated as teachers in the course “Zooplankton Communities – Taxonomy and Methods”, an event organized by ForBio in collaboration with the DIKU-funded project MEDUSA. The course was packed with motivated students and beautiful specimens of gelatinous zooplankton, and we managed to collect some hydromedusae for NorHydro as well. The bloom of hydrozoans is more evident in the water column than anywhere else, since the reproductive season is in close relation with the increasing abundance of food items in the plankton (which in turn follows the spring bloom of microalgae), and our samples confirmed that spring is the perfect hydrozoan hunting season. Beautiful sunsets, friendly chats, and exciting lectures complemented the activities of the zooplankton course, making for a great month in the partnership of ForBio and NorHydro!

We caught some interesting jellies during the course, like these Leuckartiara octona (left), Tima bairdii (middle), and Halopsis ocellata (right). Pictures: Elena Degtyareva

Happy participants of the zooplankton course. From left to right: Raphaelle Descoteaux, Christina Jönander, Ksenia Kosobokova, Elena Temereva, Kyle Mayers, Luis Martell, Elena Degtyareva, Aino Hosia, Sanna Majaneva, Ksenia Smirnova, Ekaterina Nikitenko, Anna Shapkina. Joan Soto (right picture) explained how to keep ctenophores alive during the visit to the Ctenophore Facility of the Sars Centre. Pictures: Nataliya Budaeva, Luis Martell

– Luis

Spring time is hydrozoan time

Spring means warmer temperatures, increasing daylight, flowers blooming everywhere… and a lot of outdoor and outreach activities for our projects at the Invertebrate Collections of the museum! In particular, project NorHydro started last month with a kick-off workshop (read more about it here) and we have not stopped collecting specimens, attending conferences, teaching courses and joining sampling trips since then. But why is it that spring is such an important time for hydrozoans and NorHydro?

Well, for starters, spring is the reproductive season for many species of hydrozoans in Norwegian waters. Most Norwegian hydrozoans are seasonal animals and for many of them the increasing temperatures and daylight of March and April trigger a shift in the life cycle towards the production of reproductive stages.

Tiny hydromedusae were already being produced in many of the hydroids we collected, like these colonies of Sarsia tubulosa (left) and Obelia dichotoma (right). Pictures: Luis Martell

Colonies of Eudendrium vaginatum (left), Kirchenpaueria pinnata (middle), and Halecium halecinum (right). Photos: Luis Martell and Joan J. Soto Àngel

The reproductive stages are often necessary to correctly identify a hydroid colony to species level, so we took advantage of the season to collect the very first samples of the project during the kick-off workshop. More than 50 samples of hydrozoans were collected thanks to the efforts of all the participants, and special thanks are due to NorHydro’s team of hydrozoan experts for identifying the specimens and making for a great start of the project.

The hydrozoan team: Aino (left), Peter (in both pictures), and Joan (right), hanging around in the lab of the Marine Biological Station during the kick-off workshop. Pictures: Luis Martell

Peter Schuchert from the Natural History Museum of Geneva was a very special participant in this meeting, where he kindly shared his extensive expertise with us. Peter’s knowledge of hydrozoans is impressive, and it was a real pleasure to learn from him on everything from collecting methods to preservation techniques and species identities. Completing our team of experts were our very own Aino Hosia from the University Museum, who stopped by to share some of her experiences on hydrozoan diversity in the region, and Joan J. Soto Àngel from the Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology, who collected many specimens and participated in several interesting discussions about the expected outcomes and potential subprojects of NorHydro.

Our samples were full of hydroids, most of which were documented and preserved for future DNA work. Pictures: Luis Martell and Joan J. Soto Àngel

Of course one of the great advantages for NorHydro during the workshop was the possibility to learn from the activities and results of our sister projects Sea Slugs of Southern Norway and Hardbunnfauna, and to share experiences with them and with the members of the university’s student dive club (SUB-BSI). With such amazing partners and professional collaborators, it was impossible for the kick-off workshop not to be a big success, so thank you all for giving NorHydro the best possible start!

We had all types of weather during the workshop, going from almost-summer to snowy-winter in the same day! Pictures: Luis Martell

Keep up with NorHydro here on the blog, as well as in the Facebook page of Hydrozoan Science  and in Twitter with the hashtag #NorHydro.

Luis