Tuesday, September 1, 2015

freshwater jellies

Penny-sized freshwater jellyfish.  Photo by Chuck Cooper.

WBIR's Jim Matheny is a good TV multimedia journalist. And like any good reporter, he's always searching for his next story.

On a recent day off, he rented a paddleboard from River Sports to explore Mead's Quarry Lake at Ijams. Spotting something odd and small swimming in the water, Jim had one of those "What the heck?" moments. 

The next day, a phone call or two, led him to me. And luckily, I knew "What the heck" he was talking about: Craspedacusta sowerbii, or freshwater jellyfish.

Transparent and the size of a penny, the little beasties are hard to notice and hard not to notice at the same time. They're 99 percent water and one percent simple cellular construct that somehow holds the creature together. And, yet...Pow!, the miracle of life! 

But finding them in a 25-acre lake is serendipitous, like finding a Leprechaun's pot of gold or the car keys I once lost for my 1971 Toyota Celica.  

Jim's lively jellyfish report aired this afternoon on WBIR. It's perhaps one of the smallest living things the venerable NBC affiliate has ever showcased. Watching the account, it looks like I'm the only one paddling around the lake chasing the Lilliputian invertebrates. Did I say "ephemeral"? I should. Yet, always nearby, off camera, was a red canoe that contained the story's reporter, producer, writer, editor and videographer, an entire TV crew, all housed in Jim.

He had also figured out how to get his GoPro video camera to glide smoothly underwater behind his canoe using a combination of an empty water bottle for buoyancy and wrenches for ballast. His cobbled together creation should be forever known as the "Matheny Rig." His jellyfish footage is matchless. 

To see his report, clickWBIR jellyfish

Thanks, Jim.

Happy Birthday, Karen Suzy!

Jim holding his recently created "Matheny Rig" for underwater video
WBIR TV News crew
Searching for jellies.
Photos by Jim Matheny (Who else was out there?)


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