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Don’t Be Jelly | Olivia Blondheim
October 29, 2020 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
It’s Jelly season. On our safety stop, we have all been swatting those little moon jellies and avoiding the pink meanies on our journey to the surface – not to mention, regretting not wearing that rash guard during those brutal 3 minutes. As we wait there, it makes me think, why do we need these things so much? What do they do for the Gulf? Is it just me or are we seeing more this year? They’re not cuddly and they always seem to have their last revenge as the propeller cuts off their stinging tentacles onto my face. Why are jellyfish so important to the Gulf and waterways all over the world? How to humans symbiotically live with jellyfish? What’s up with their anatomy? How do they eat? What is their role in the food chain and what do they indicate as far as climate and conditions? What I really realized is, I don’t really know much about these creatures that we see all the time. While at the shop, we met Olivia, a very sweet and enthusiastic diver – the kind you want to be on the boat with. She has made it her lifelong passion to study these little transparent and gelatinous creatures.
Join us for October’s Local Guest Speaker Olivia Blondheim
On Thursday, Oct. 29, join us for an informal discussion on jellyfish in the Gulf from Olivia Blondheim, an Integrative Biology Ph.D. student at the University of South Florida, where she is both a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (GRFP) Fellow and a University of South Florida Presidential Fellow. Currently, her research focuses on the effect of crude oil and chemical dispersant on the feeding behaviors of jellyfish. Olivia has a B.A. in Biology and Spanish from Drew University.
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Zendog Divers is an informal dive club for like-minded people. Our mission is focused on local Florida diving including: safety, marine conservation and continuing dive education. We try to have a guest speaker once a month join us. If you are interested in participating in our monthly guest lecture series, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More About Olivia Blondheim
Funded by the National Science Foundation as part of Oregon State University’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program, Olivia used fine-scale imaging systems to investigate how hydromedusae migrate vertically over a 24-hour cycle. She also studied the factors that affect how upside-down jellies pulsate their bells in South Water Caye, Belize and through CIEE’s Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation Program in Kralendijk, Bonaire.
As a NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Scholar, Olivia interned at the Newport Research Station of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Newport, Oregon. There her research investigated the vertical distribution of an anomalous bloom of pyrosomes in the northern California Current, which she presented in her first TEDx talk, “Colonies of change.” In June 2018, Olivia was invited to co-keynote with Philippe Cousteau Jr. at the 4th International Symposium on the Effects of Climate Change on the World’s Oceans.
Olivia volunteered at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland where she was an exhibit guide, student volunteer mentor, and jellyfish aquarist. Working behind-the-scenes in the jellies lab ignited her interest in understanding how jellies interact with their marine environment.
As an American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) Scientific Diver, she hopes that her research will engage local communities to better protect their water resources. In her free time, Olivia enjoys traveling and spending time with her family. She hopes her research will bring a greater awareness to the important roles that jellies play within our changing ocean.