FRESHWATER JELLYFISH DISCOVERED IN IDAHO BY GIRL SCOUTS

Five Cadette Girl Scouts from Troop 343 in Boise, Idaho have made the unique discovery of the first freshwater jellyfish existing in the state of Idaho.

Girl Scouts diving for Jellyfish

While learning to scuba dive on Sept. 21, 1997 at an old water-filled quarry, first one and then another girl spotted small quarter-sized creatures resembling what appeared to be jellyfish sharing the pond with them.

Their leader, who is by profession a science teacher in the Boise school district, didn't believe the girls and challenged them to show her one and prove it. They immediately did!

a special dive day

The girls were doing required sets of diving skills to complete their PADI Open Water certification so that they would be able to go scuba diving in June of 1998 on their trip to Hawaii.

Little did any of them know that they wouldn't have to get any farther than downtown Boise to meet a relative of the Portugese man-of-war they may find next summer on their trip.

new jelly fish display at GARF

The girls decided to return on Sunday, Sept. 22, 1997 and see if they could collect one in a jar to take to school for further study. The little creature was viewed and returned with no interest. But the following day, Tuesday, that soon changed when one the leaders stepped in and went asking questions in the community of the Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game.

enjoying the 29 gallon reef

Representatives were also puzzled and contacted Leroy Headlee to come have a look. Working together with the girl scouts, both agencies are now in the process of collecting information about freshwater jellyfish since it was confirmed indeed that is what had been found.

fresh water jelly fish

Three aquariums have been set up at the Geothermal Aquaculture Research Foundation with several jellyfish brought in by the girl scouts for further observation and study.

all the tv stations came to see

Today, Saturday, Sept. 27, 1997 the girls under the guidance of Mr. Headlee, returned to the location and collected pond muck to make the little jellyfish happier in their aquariums.

channel 6 came to the pond

When the girls returned to the lab with stones, trash, and mud from the pond, the girls thought indeed some of the jellyfish did seem to be smiling and a lot more active.

jelly fish

It is the hope of all interested parties that these jellyfish will survive and we will all gain a better understanding of their small universe and how we can cohabitate peacefully and in better health together.

a long day of diving
Submitted by E.M.D.


JESSICA's STORY

On the 21 of September a Girl Scout troop was S.C.U.B.A diving in Bob Rice pond where they happened to see a small jelly fish like animal swimming in the water.

A science teacher baffled by the animal took it to a Marine bioligist who was also baffled by it. A Co-leader took it to the M.K nature center where it was identified as a fresh water jelly fish, which happened to be the only siting in the whole state!

If this lake had been treated with chemicals the jelly fish would no longer exist there.

When I first saw it I thought big whoop a jelly fish . I didn't know it was so important. Now we are observing them and taking notes and doing other tests on them .

We are trying to find out what they eat , doing nothing to hurt them. we also gave a few of them names, like Spunky. On saturday one of them layed eggs, so now maybe there will be little jellies in hydroid form.

sent by JESSICA: )

at the GARF lab


Our Amazing Discovery
My girl scout troop 343 discovered a new Idaho species of freshwater jellyfish. Craspedacusta sowerbyi is its scientific name.

Our girl scout troop had been working to go to Hawaii for the last three years, and while we are there we thought it would be fun to go scuba diving in the crystal clear waters of Maui.

they found more

Five girls in our troop wanted to do this and worked for six weeks trying to get certified. We did our certification dives at Bob Rice Pond, which is an old rock quarry. For years people polluted this pond by littering. On our last open water dives one of the girls, Amanda Andreason, saw this jellyfish while she was snorkeling at the surface.

The next day we went back in the icy waters armed with peanut butter jars and plastic soda bottle in case we saw these creatures again. By the end of the day we had caught five or six of the jellyfish.

jelly fish

Our leader Karen Andreason is a science teacher at Fairmont Jr. High School. She read through all of her books and called all of her biologist friends trying to identify this rare freshwater jellyfish. Finally we got in touch with LeRoy Headlee, of Geothermal Aquaculture Research Foundation.

He told us that only a few of these species had ever been found and when they were, only in ponds and rock quarries such as Bob Rice pond. Oddly enough most were found in states east of the Mississippi River, and that they had never been found in Idaho before. This was one of the the first new species found in Idaho in the last ten years.

The even more amazing part of this discovery is the timing. Only once in about 13 years do these species ever take the form of a jellyfish. This is their sexual stage in reproducing. So the last time that these species were in the jellyfish form was when everyone in our troop were just being born.

This is a pretty amazing discovery, but if you knew our troop well, you wouldn't be all that surprised. Our troop is the complete opposite of the cute cookie selling cliche of a girl scout troop you might think of. Our girl scout troop is pretty much notorious for having wild adventures (not always good ones).

Our girl scout troop is very active. We go backpacking and hiking, we go camping and skiing, we go to Lagoon and Hawaii, not to mention taking scuba diving classes and discovering a new Idaho freshwater jellyfish species. One of troop member's, Jessica Lopour's, mom said "Leave it up to you guys to discover a new species."

The Fish and Game department has already told us that we could not take anymore of these animals out of their natural environment. So I guess next time you go swiming in Bob Rice Pond or any other pond for that matter, keep your eyes open you'll never know what you might find.

-Sara Bastian
(Queen Sassy@AOL.com)