Yesterday I fully realised the power of social media… I saw a photo online of a giant sunfish that had stranded in Norway (somewhere we know sunfishes occur, but relatively rarely it seems), and within a few hours I was discussing sunfish ecology with Fredrik Jutfelt (the scientist who found the specimen & conducted a detailed beach dissection), and Guus Wellesen, (a researcher at the nearby NTNU) who is preserving some of the tissues collected. This quickly led to sharing of the new samples to increase the scope of our global study! We haven’t been able to collect samples from this region so far, and so this collaboration represents an amazing insight into sunfish ecology, to see if our predictions for their diet and habitat-use hold true across differing populations around the world.
Sunfish stranded in Trondheim, Norway (photos Fredrik Jutfelt)
This is not the first time I have been offered help with my studies by people I have only met virtually, but it helps to further illustrate how, even with 6.6 billion people in the world, we are all becoming more closely connected. The theoretical six degrees of separation must be continuously reduced by new social media networks linking people with common interests from all over the world.
In terms of our research, thanks to such connections we now have sunfish samples arranged from Italy, Ireland, the UK, the USA, Peru, Norway and France! I am so very grateful for our many collaborators who have collected or donated tissues! We are working together to try better understand the ecology of this vulnerable species to further conservation efforts and I am delighted to be a part of this global network.
So many sunfish samples, but still lots of space!
Today I would like to make the most of this opportunity to reach even more people and ask if anyone else has access to ocean sunfish tissues; from museums or fisheries; if they strand dead in your local area; if they are frozen/in ethanol/dried we are always interested!
If the samples exist and you can spare 5mg for analysis please please please get in touch using the comments section below or via Twitter: @SunfishResearch or email: firstname.lastname@example.org We are happy to reimburse postage costs and we will acknowledge all help in any future publications 🙂
Many thanks for your help and for spreading the message