Dr. Alan Deidun
University Lecturer and Marine Biologist
Dr. Alan Deidun is a Lecturer at the IOI-Malta Operational Centre of the University of Malta. He holds a PhD in biology and is recognised as a Chartered Biologist by the Institute of Biology of London. He has published over 40 peer-reviewed papers on various aspects of coastal and marine biology such as coastal conservation, ecology of beaches and rocky shores, marine alien species, gelatinous plankton and jellyfish, red coral conservation and management of MPA's. He has participated to numerous regional conferences on coastal and marine biology, such as CIESM, ICS and MEDCOAST.
He has lectured biology at various levels for the past 8 years and has also conducted a number of high-profile marine impact assessment studies over the past 5 years, including the studies on the impacts of the offshore wind farm at Sikka l-Bajda, on the marine impacts of the proposed Delimara power station extension and of the sewage outfall at Ta-Barkat, Xghajra and in connection with several proposed cruise terminal facility extensions within the Grand Harbour. He is also a member of the Marine Biological Association of the UK and of the Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science Association of the UK and of the Societa di Biologia Marina of Italy and he is also a keen SCUBA diver.
He is the contact point and responsible biologist within IOI-MOC for the Spot the Jellyfish campaign. The Spot the Jellyfish initiative is coordinated by Prof. Aldo Drago, Dr. Alan Deidun and staff of IOI-MOC, and enjoys the support of the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) and of Nature Trust, Friends of the Earth, EkoSkola, the Blue Flag Malta programme and, as from this year, Sharklab. The campaign is an IOI-Kids Programme initiative, which follows a citizen science approach and relies on the collaboration of the general public, mariners, divers, and especially the younger generations through their teachers and parents, by recruiting their assistance in recording the presence and location of different jellyfish through the use of a dedicated colourful reporting leaflet. The leaflet is being widely distributed, and can be directly downloaded from www.ioikids.net/jellyfish, which is replete with snippets and anecdotes about different jellyfish species. With the support of MTA, large posters have furthermore been projected on boards along major bays on both islands.
The reporting is done by simply matching the sighted jellyfish with a simple visual identification guide, giving the date and time of the sighting, and indicating the number of jellies seen. Sightings can be also reported online or submitted through an SMS on 79 222 278, or by sending an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Strange jellyfish not included on the leaflet should be caught and kept in a bucketful of seawater prior to contacting IOI-MOC staff (email@example.com) for retrieval to attempt a definite identification of the species. If this is not possible, photos of the same individuals should be taken.
So far, over four 450 reports of 13 different jellyfish species have been submitted by the public, and can be viewed online on a summary map (http://188.8.131.52/jellyfish/stats.html) which depicts jellyfish occurrence and distribution. A scientific paper detailing some of the most uncommon jellyfish species recorded through the initiative has recently been published and can be downloaded from here. For instance, the blue button (Porpita porpita), the crystal jellyfish (Aequorea sp.), the moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita), Cladonema radiatum and a number of other jellyfish species were recorded for the first time from Maltese waters as a result of such an initiative. The initiative is ensuing during the winter months. The initiative has received international recognition for its innovation citizen science approach, being featured online in various related portals.
A revamped set of posters has been designed this year and are being affixed at different coastal sites, balancing out concomitantly the need to be as user-friendly and informative as possible. A jellyfish photography competition is also being organised, jointly with Din l-Art Helwa, with submissions being received by Dr. Alan Deidun (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dr. Stanley Farrugia Randon (email@example.com). The competition is set along two tiers – one for SCUBA divers and snorkelers having an underwater camera and one for those having a conventional camera and taking photos of beached or surface jellyfish specimens. Winners of both categories will be announced during Notte Bianca and prizes include an underwater watch and an underwater camera.
The Spot the Jellyfish campaign launched in May 2010 has received international recognition for its citizen science value – for instance, global citizen science fora, such as the 'Science for Citizens' blog (http://www.scienceforcitizens.net/blog/2010/08/