Jellyfish Bloom and Gloom

Jeremy Jackson calls it "The Rise of Slime". Daniel Pauly sees a future in jellyfish burgers. And given that this week is the 2nd International Jellyfish Bloom Symposium--where D. Pauly will deliver the keynote address (having not been able to attend the 1st symposium in Alabama in 2002)--it seemed fitting this week should be dedicated to jellyfish bloom and gloom.

Jellyfish, given their lowly position on the marine food chain and their penchant for degraded ecosystems, are, after all, the darlings of shifting baselines. They are the reality of our marine future unless we decide to change.


Jellyfish Blooms: No Bed of Roses
The removal of predatory fish throughout the world's oceans (by commercial fisheries to feed humans and what we eat) combined with nutrient runoff (jargon for 'sewage') have made the perfect ocean petri dish for jellyfish blooms. These 'blooms' are no blossoms, but more like explosions of jellies--a global jellyfish boom.

A 2005 report in Science showed that jellyfish blooms in the Yangtze River are in direct competition with fish for food. Inedible jellyfishes now make up 98.44% of total catches and clog the nets of trawlers in the river's mouth (the same trawlers pehaps responsible for making marine ecosystems amenable to jellyfish).

Last summer, the entire Mediterranean was on jellyfish alert and more than 30,000 people were stung. In some areas off the Spanish coast, scientists with Oceana found more than 10 jellyfish per square meter.


Japan slowed down a nuclear power plant last summer because jellyfish were blocking the water intake, which is easy to imagine given the size of some jellyfish in the area (including the 200-kg jelly in the photo above found off Japan's shores in October 2005).

In the Gulf of Mexico, all species of jellyfish are rapidly increasing and overlapping with prime fishing grounds, such as those for Red snapper. Moon jellyfish are being found in concentrations so dense they're described as gelatinous nets.

This week, I will take a closer look at jellyfish. In the meantime, more bloom and gloom:

A report last week from Australia discusses how jellyfish impeding shipping and fishing worldwide.

Jellyfish blooms in Britain.

Jellyfish blooms on the African coast.

The report from the 1st International Jellyfish Bloom Symposium.

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Jelly Burgers? What an awesome idea! Just think of the economic opportunity here. Yet another case where pollution can create opportunities creating jobs. Other than the known toxins in the jellies, we might be avoid the common problems with beef (fecal coliform contamination, etc). Jelly-slaughterhouse workers wouldn't need the chainmail, but they'd need something to avoid the nematocysts.

Maybe we could redefine "jelly doughnut" and shift that baseline, too.

Hair gel(jel) anyone? Don't mind that mild stinging sensation, it just tells you that it's working. [There's probably an SB film in there somewhere.]

Of course, this also gives me a great opportunity to market the DAN Hazardous Marine Life Injuries course to scuba divers.
(shameless plug)

Have you ever had jellyfish? It's not bad, but it's certainly not my favorite. It's thinner, more translucent and more rubbery than squid. At least the way Japanese prepare it, I'm not too keen.

That is one huge jelly fish.

The truth is that scientists do NOT know why these jellyfish blooms occur and whether or not they are actually linked to ecosystem degradation. Then there are "scientists" who will grasp at any straws to paint a picture of complete global ecosystem apocalypse based on some very loose correlations and alot of BULLSHIT.

This is the scariest thing i've ever seen and I have an aphobia of jellies- that's why. It's so colossal it's near to unrealistic!!!!!!! When I see a jellyfish at Aberdeen beach when I go paddling, I am too stunned to scream, and I can't run anywere, I feel glued to the spot, and just-about-to-die. I would die if I saw this. The biggest i've encountered was one the size of a quality Street box, and it was dark purple. I never go paddling there again! And even in normal swimming pools, I can't swim with my eyes closed cos then I think of "'em". Even on dry land, if I think of that jellyfish as close to me as it was, I run to the side and check it isn't there. The only reason I saw this was because I am going to do surfing soon, and need to know what to do if I bump into one of these. I then asked my mum, "Can you get rid of aphobias?", she said, "Yes. First, look at photos of them, and after a while, go to see them at an aquarium. It is ok, not to succesful sometimes, though.

oh lord !!!they are so big and pretty

Hair gel jel anyone? Don't mind that mild stinging sensation, it just tells you that it's working. There's probably an SB film in there somewhere..