Medusae-Project Ireland

 

15 august 2018

Thea arrived the 5th of August and from that day until the 9th of August we have been very busy with the documentary and our usual researches. We found some more Lion’s Mane in Dooega and Louise from the lifeguards of Keel called us one day because one washed up there. Louise explained us that she stopped another lifeguard who was burying it, what they usuelly do because she knew about us looking for lion’s mane. It was really freshly washed up: it still had all its tentacles. We spent also more time doing the treatment because of the bigger amount of Jellyfish we have now. The mobile home really made it easier. We also showed Thea where we have been working and the people that have been helping us. We had the chance to go again on the boat with JP to film underwater. The sea was wild and we couldn’t go far.

We also compared the new lion’s mane with the older ones who already had treatments and we are very happy with the results, as we already said it. It makes us dream to find larger one (some Lion’s Mane are 2m diameter).

The last days in Achill were very nice with sunny weather and we already miss this beautiful island. On the last day on the island we went to Dugort beach with Thea and there we found many small mauve stingers (Pelagia noctiluca), beautiful purple jellyfish that light up in the dark.

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We went then to Dublin and visited some museum. We went to the museum of modern art where some work of Dorothy Cross is exhibited and also to the Natural history museum where there are some preserved jellyfish in formulin and a whale skull from Maude Delap. The jellyfish in formulin looked very different from what we saw because their colors fadded away (they also are more than 100 years old). It is also something that we have been exploring, how to keep the color intact from the Jellyfish. We have found some vellela and blue fire which have originaly some very nice blue colors but we couldn’t keep the colors with the treatment, unlike the compass or the lion’s mane that we found who have still amazing colors and patterns.

We also had in Dublin the time to watch Medusae, the documentary of Dorothy Cross and Tom Cross about the work they did with Jellyfish.

In Dublin we still had to do the treatment and as the car was in the parking lot, this was our new atelier.

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On the boat to Liverpool we saw lots of Jellyfish swimming in the water.

We are now in Folkestone. It is the last day of our trip. We explored the area a bit but didn’t see any jellyfish. We read that yesterday there was a ‘red flag warning’ due to the high percentage of pollution in the sea.

Tomorrow we will take the boat to Calais and go both home. It is the end of one part of the project but not the end of all project.

For a while we will be working apart from each other: Nijmegen – Rennes/Yffiniac. It will be a big change for both of us, devoting less time to the project and working apart from each other, it’s sad but the reality. We have to combine it with working life. We will be working towards the goals for the exhibition in April next year.

In September we will meet in Rennes for an interview and in December Mathilde will be visiting Nijmegen to see the progress of the treatments and share about our ideas and future plans, especially for our exhibition in April.

This are the last words of this blog, for now. I hope you liked reading our adventures.There are a lot of things coming and a lot of things that we didn’t talked about. This was such a great time for us. We now need to relax and have time to look back at this great adventure but we hope to have new things to share here soon. Au revoir. Tot ziens.

And thank you to all the people who supported us.

4 August 2018

During the last days of July we have been struggling with the weather due to extreme rain and wind. Living in a tent from 1993 under 50 km/h wind and with the rain leaking from the roof, was not a solution anymore. It was taking too much of our energy. Luckily, the camping where we are has the best owner of the world, Joe (Lavelle’s camping Dugort). He came up very quickly with a solution and now we live in a very authentic mobile home. In our new home everything seems to be easier. We have less worries about the weather and we can focus only on our work.

On the 1st of August we went to Connemarra to meet Dorothy Cross. It was two great hours of exchanging about our common passion for jellyfish. The work she did related to it. While talking about it, you could see her sparkling about the subject and memories coming back. She said she traveled the world for jellyfish.
Important aspects in Dorothy’s work are memories, fading memories, the past, present and future and how these interact with each other. After finding out about Maude Delap’s work, Dorothy became fascinated about it and she and her brother Tom Cross, a zoologist, devote all her time into it for three years. Maude Delap seemed to be forgotten and the work Dorothy made was to bring back the relevance and beauty of it. She showed us a drawing from Maude Delap, a Velella Velella jellyfish given by a member of Maude’s family.
It was very amusing to get the chance to meet up in the studio, it provides an extra dimension to the conversation. Dorothy mentioned that during her creative process, she is often lead by the opposite of subjects or by the strangeness of things, which appeals to the development of creating a work.

The next day, we started planning the preparations for the visit of Thea van Gaalen. Thea will visit us on the 5th August to make a documentary about the project. In the morning we drove around the Island to meet our contacts to make appointments for filming. But our program of the day had to change. Something extraordinary, unexpected happened… Arriving at Dooega harbour, the person that we were looking for was not there, but we saw his car and knew he must have been out fishing. So we patiently walked along the beach and Mathilde first noticed some damaged pieces. “Charlotte, there are ‘Lion’s Foot Prints’’ here!’’. There were also a big presence of algae and as we explained in the last post, it is a sign that there might be jellyfish. We decided to explore the whole beach and suddenly we saw one Lion’s Mane lying upside down and then an other and an other and an other… It was the first time that so much Lion’s Mane washed up since we are here. We collected around 15 of them.

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Lion’s Mane and algae.

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Mathilde.

Since the beginning of our trip everything goes further than our expectations. The results of the treatments are still very promising and with all the new one’s we found, this will become an important part of our journey to take care of them. We are also very excited by the visit of Thea and we plan to go back to the East coast during the last days in Ireland. We will tell you more about it later.

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Salt treatment.

30 July 2018

On wednesday the 25th of July we reached the coast guard from Achill Island. We spoke to Rob Joyce, head of the Coast Guard Achill, which is runned by volunteers. He told us that this year there were less reports of jellyfish and also he mentioned that the life guards are usually more directly concerned by the appear of jellyfish. Rob Joyce told us that they don’t want to afraid the tourist with the Lion’s Mane presence, since Achill depends on tourism. Since we are here, we gave our contacts to the life guards, hoping to increase our chances to find Lion’s mane washing up.

On the 26th of July we received a phone call from JP, the fisherman. He found a big Lion’s Mane in Purteen harbour. We were very happy JP phoned us and to see that the network that we build up on the Island works. We never know when and where jellyfish appears, so all help is welcome. We went to collect the Lion’s Mane, but unfortunately JP already left the harbour so we don’t know exactly yet where he found the jellyfish. We will visit JP this week again.

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We always use protection when we manipulate Lion’s mane.

The days before no jellyfish washed up. It seems that due to the strong wind (between 40-50 km/h) and current they got attracted back to the deep ocean. We also observed the absence of algae on the beach of our camping. As we go there everyday, we see it changing and try to understand how this environment works. We established when no algae wash up, there is less chance of jellyfish. We often find them near to each other.

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We saw yesterday that the algae were back in Dugort.

The next day we got an email from Dorothy Cross. A few days earlier we sent her a message to see if we could meet her. She is a very inspiring artist that works with natural resources. In 2005 Dorothy and her brother Tom, zoologist, realized a project called Medusae. This project is inspired by Maude Delap’s work, a Victorian-age self-taught marine biologist that was the first woman to breed jellyfish in captivity on Valentia Island, Ireland. She was very ahead of her time and it seems a fascinating story to dive into and to explore. That’s why we are very exciting to meet Dorothy Cross on wednesday 1st August at her place in Connemara.

On the 28th July, on the advise of the life guard of Keem beach, we went to Mulranny. There has been some reports of jellyfish washing up. On the day that we visited, we collected 4 Lion’s Mane of medium size. We saw lot of species of jellyfish compared to the beaches of the Island. We have been asking people around and they said it’s usual to see jellyfish at that place. We first found two Lion’s Mane and on our way back to the car we got phone called by Anne, that we met on the beach during our research, telling us she saw more at a place we didn’t explore yet. We then went back and found the two other ones.

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Lion’s mane at Murrivaugh beach, Mulranny.

The day after we were busy with the treatments. The first Lion’s mane that we found on Dugort beach is now about 30 cm diameter. With the treatment it shrank and the result seems to be promising. We keep documenting the progress and we are patient and careful with the process. Until now we are very content.

We heard from somebody of the camping that was swimming, half a mile away in the sea, lots of moon jellyfish and some ‘little brown ones’ that from his description seems to be Lion’s Mane.

Today, the 30 July we had an appointment with Tom Honeyman, head of the aquarium, to share about our project and his knowledge, especially as a former fisherman. He said to us that this year he also haven’t seen as much jellyfish, but they are present as long as he can remember. He remembers that in the 90’s, working on the boat, the jellyfish were getting stuck in the engines and often they had to stop it.

Our project in the Ouest France newspaper. An article written by Catherine Lemesle.

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Ouest France newspaper 30 July 2018.

24 July 2018

Since we wrote the last post, we came further with our research. We are still at Achill Island and we want to stay here. The island is very beautiful and have a strong creative and collective energy.
Every morning we start our day on Dugort beach – Golden strand, to see if some jellyfish wash up during the night and what kind. We try to document on a daily basis what is happening on that beach to understand when the Lion’s Mane have more possibilities to wash up.
On the 18th July we stumbled upon a Velella Velella, ‘By-the-wind-sailor’. Surprised as we were,  seeing this beautiful specimen washed up on the West Coast of the Wild Atlantic Ocean.
Since I started the Medusae-Project, I have been fascinated by this one, due to it’s bright blue colours and the fact that it floats above the water. Many of them washed up, we counted more than 20 of them, very small (the biggest was about 5cm long). We didn’t preserve this one, it’s too tiny.
The Moon jellyfish is very common here, we have seen them every day since we arrived in Ireland, but these also too small to be preserved, at least, for the purpose and context of the Medusae-Project.

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A Velella Velella washed up on Dugort Beach, Achill.

The day after, we visited Purteen harbour, a classic and small fishing harbour. There we met JP, a fisherman who accepted to take us on his boat. He has been a fishermen for 60   years and has seen the evolution of fishing in Achill.

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Drawing from Mathilde.

During the boat trip, we got the chance to ask all the questions that came to our mind.    JP has noticed a decline in the amount of fish in the sea and for him the seagulls also seem to be more hungry and not getting enough to eat. He have seen less crabs this year but some fish species are more present.
Since a few years it’s forbidden to catch salmon, in order to bring back the natural habitat and since the 80’s it’s forbidden to catch the basking shark. It was the main activities of the harbour. Last year, he had seen some Lion’s Mane jellyfish, but didn’t see any this year yet.
During the trip we went along by all his hidden cages. He dragged the cages out of the water, but the catch was not what he hoped for.

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Purteen harbor.

On friday we visited the harbour Dooega. There we met John, he was just about to go fishing. John fishes between June and August on Achill, so on a recreational basis. The rest of the year he works at Malaga. He observe Jellyfish for years already and is very interested in them. John spotted a few Lion’s Mane’s the days before, so he was sure they are already around. He told us he will let us know as soon as one wash up around Dooega.

On saturday morning we woke up by someone knocking on our door to tell us one big Lion’s Mane washed up on Dugort beach, the beach a few meters away from our camping ground. It was some members of a family staying at the camping. They were walking with Cody their dog when thanks to him they found the jellyfish. We put a sign at the camping reception since we are settle here to ask people to tell us when they see Jellyfish and this family was already trying to help us for few days, giving us the information they had. So we went straight to the beach: this was the first big Lion’s Mane washed up since we arrived in Ireland. It was 2,5Kg (without tentacles) for 43cm.

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Thank you to, from left to right: Lily, Gerard, Ellie, Andrew and also to Luke, Conor, Briege, Cody (dog), who are not on the picture.

We also directly saw a few other species on the sand. Four blue fire jellyfish and another jellyfish that we think it’s a Lion’s Mane, even though its colours are lighter than the big one we found.

According to Tom Doyle, marine biologist specialized in jellyfish, the Lion’s Mane is one example of a jellyfish that distinguish from other jellyfish species. ‘What makes these jellyfish different from other jellyfish like animals (e.g. hydromedusae), is that they live for many months in the water column, grow very large and produce large amounts of gelatinous material called mesoglea, which helps determine their overall body shape.’

Besides the fact that jellyfish bloom in large numbers, wash up and can cause painful stings, the tissue is the reason why we are specifically interested in the Lion’s Mane. Due to the strength of it, the raw material provides more potential in terms of producing a durable material.

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Lion’s mane washed up on Dugort Beach, Achill Island.

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Blue Fire jellyfish washed up on Dugort Beach, Achill Island.

The family that found the jellyfish told us that they thought the water was warmer the day before. They went swimming and a few of them without wetsuits.
Afterwards we spoke to another visitor that went diving the same day and he saw many jellyfish ‘a few “big fellas’’ ’, which must have been the Lion’s Mane.

The next day we found another Lion’s Mane washed up.

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Lion’s Mane jellyfish.

During that time we also followed the treatments for the Jellyfish we found on the East coast and the new ones. It is a daily work. It seems to go well and the skin of the Lion’s Mane seems stronger and thicker. We repeat treatments with salt and alum in order to take some water out. The Jellyfish consists of  95% water. When treated the Jellyfish get smaller that is why we want to work on bigger ones. We try to adjust the treatment to the result we have. It is a meditative work that we like to do because we feel really close to the material. We started today to put the Jellyfish in brine. We will have more results in few days and we hope that it will keep going well.

The last two days there didn’t wash up any jellyfish, not even small ones, but we keep exploring.

Project supported by:

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17 July 2018

I am very grateful to announce that my researches continue with support of the Stimuleringsfonds.

One week ago I left Nijmegen, my hometown, to travel to Ireland. I heard that lots of jellyfish wash up in Ireland and decided to go there at the time of the year where they are the most present. In Calais, I met my friend and project partner Mathilde Bertho-le Bris (FR) and from there we have been travelling together to Ireland.

We first we stayed a few nights in Bray, nearby Dublin. We went everyday to Dun Laoghaire, a harbour, where jellyfish have been reported. After asking people of the area, we quickly saw, on the new moon’s day hundreds of them swarming. There were numerous Moon Jellyfish, which are harmless and even if we spotted some dead ones on the first days we couldn’t reach them at that moment.

Afterwards, again on people’s advice, we visited Sandycove, a small beach nearby. The moment we arrived, the life guards were busy warning the visitors for the Lion’s Mane jellyfish: a dangerous species that blooms all around Ireland. This is the sort we are looking for and why we came to Ireland. We will be doing research on this species in particular. The Lion’s mane can grow up to 2m diameters and can cause fatal stings. We interviewed, David, the life guards on Sandycove: 15 Lion’s Mane were reported and 6 people got injured that day. It was the day that the more jellyfish has been spotted for this season but they apparently come every year.

We finally managed to collect a few species in our last day in Dun Laoghaire, so far only one Lion’s Mane. We already started the first treatments for preservation even if some jellyfish got damaged by washing up on stairs.

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Preserving jellyfish.

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Moon jellyfish found on Dugort beach, county Mayo, Ireland.

Since yesterday we have arrived in the West Coast. Tom Doyle, a marine biologist from Ireland, specialized in jellyfish, recommend us to search in this area. After stopping by Galway, we are now on Achill island. We have a magnificent spot a few meters away from the sea. We couldn’t wish better.

Today we spent time getting in touch with the local people of the island, to collect information about which places we can visit best. It seems that we already have lot of information and can’t wait to start looking for more jellyfish. We were told that last year there were thousands of jellyfish washing up. You could hardly walk on the beach. We also read that a huge jellyfish washed up last week on the south of the island in Keel.

In the following days we will visit the recommended coastlines around the island. The best moment to find jellyfish is just after the peak of the high tides. So our daily time schedule is based on that. We have the contact of one Marine Biologist but we are not sure yet if he is on the island. He knows a lot about the area and could be very helpful for the project.

Now we are settle down, we will try to keep you update more often. We feel that lot of people are willing to support and help us and that’s give us energy and really makes us wanting to success on our researches.

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Dugort Beach, Achill Island.

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