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Panda in Water
China Peach Jellyfish

17 August 2009

The international freshwater conference is due to take place in Wuhan, China's Hubei Province, this November. While the Chinese host didn't think there was a need to promote the occasion for the reason that it is largely an affair of the scientific community, a special congregation of the residents living in a freshwater lake in Wuhan decided to take the initiative. Their way of promoting the event is quite straightforward: they simply make their presence known to the world. When they appear in a area about 20 km2, it becomes the best PR campaign for the conference.

The special residents in question are known as "Panda in Water", an ancient invertebrate species with 550 million years of history. The swimming pandas are peach jellyfish (craspedacusta sowerbyi) inhabiting in freshwater, and of 11 of subspecies within peach jellyfish family identified so far, 9 are native Chinese creatures. These wonderful beings are transparent, gelatinous, and maintain the typical umbrella shape, consisted of 99% water.

Like pandas on the land, the pandas in water are very fussy with their living environment. With increased pollution levels in China's waterways, in the recent decades the peach jellyfish is gradually dying out. In 2002, it was pronounced as one of world's most endangered species.

Chinese responded to the crisis. Since 2000, the local authority in Wuhan has taken numerous measures to reverse the trend of deterioration of the ecological systems on land and in water, including to move factories away from the areas near waterways, encourage green cultivation of fish and develop underwater forest by planting large scale of tape grass, sheathed monochoria and other water-born plantations.

Now after decades of absence, the return of the peach jellyfish in a large scale is a wonderful sign of the improvement of the ecosystem in China, at least in Wuhan, and at least in its river system.

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