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DocWatch Jellyfish
Jellyfish, a future delicacy.
Jellyfish represent a diaphanous, poisonous canary in a coal mine. They can prosper in dead zones, acidified water, and barren parts of the ocean. Their traditional predators are being found dead with plastic bags in their bellies. Immense swarms of jellyfish have begun to show up, clogging nets with stinging sludge. Related Scary Tags:
koyaanisqatsi  ~ ocean warming  ~ overfishing  ~ ecosystem interrelationships  ~ ocean acidification  ~ invasive species  ~ climate impacts  ~ global warming  ~ predator depletion  ~ death spiral  ~ dead zones  



Sun, Jan 24, 2016
from Desmog Canada:
"The Blob" Disrupts What We Think We Know About Climate Change, Oceans Scientist Says
When the abnormally warm patch of water first appeared in 2013, fascinated scientists watched disrupted weather patterns, from drought in California to almost snowless winters in Alaska and record cold winters in the northeast. The anomalously warm water, with temperatures three degrees Centigrade above normal, was nicknamed The Blob by U.S climatologist Nick Bond. It stretched over one million square kilometres of the Gulf of Alaska -- more than the surface area of B.C. and Alberta combined -- stretching down 100-metres into the ocean. And, over the next two years that patch of water radically affected marine life from herring to whales. Without the welling-up of cold, nutrient-rich water, there was a dearth of krill, zooplankton and copepods that feed herring, salmon and other species. "The fish out there are malnourished, the whole ecosystem is malnourished," said Richard Dewey, associate director for science with Ocean Networks Canada, speaking at Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre in Sidney on Thursday.... It could be an indication of what climate change will look like, with large-scale shifts in weather patterns, said Dewey, pointing out that The Blob was not anticipated by climatologists because it did not fit into existing climate models. "Climate change may look like a whole new model we haven't seen before," Dewey said. ...


It might be time for Godzilla to smash industrial civilization.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Aug 17, 2015
from Gail at Wit:
Dispatch from the Endocene, #9
Following is the transcript from my segment on Extinction Radio which airs Sunday, August 16 ... The Dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is larger this summer than it has ever been, about the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined.... [Elsewhere,] "The toxic algae blooms in the Pacific Ocean stretching from southern California to Alaska -- already the largest ever recorded -- appear to have reached as far as the Aleutian Islands, scientists say. "The anecdotal evidence suggests we're having a major event," said Bruce Wright... "Insecticides that are sprayed in orchards and fields across North America may be more toxic to spiders than scientists previously believed"... "[T]he recent determination that cancer is almost entirely the result of exposure to various modern toxins"... "Every year over the last decade and a half, the U.S. Geological Survey has descended on Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks in California to give 17,000 trees a physical. But in a growing number of cases, what's starting off as a check-up is turning into an autopsy."... "I used to call them 'the immortals,' because they just never seemed to die," he says. "In the fourth year of drought, they've started dying by the bucket-loads. So they're no longer the immortals." ...


If all this were really happening, I'd be hearing about it on the news. Because that's what they're giving us, right? News? What's really happening?

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Aug 26, 2014
from Washington Post:
Jellyfish swarm takes over Florida beaches, stinging hundreds
They don't get the same attention as shark attacks (or even great white sightings), but jellyfish ruin far more weekends, descending on beaches like water-bound locusts. The latest example came in the waters along Daytona Beach and New Smyrna Beach. This past weekend, more than 400 swimmers were stung by jellyfish at the Florida beaches, according to Reuters. The swarm of serial stingers prompted lifeguards to raise purple flags warning of hazardous marine life. ...


Surf's up. Run away!

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jul 27, 2014
from Telegraph (UK):
Sea temperature off Plymouth hotter than California
Ocean temperatures have a soared to a seven-year high off southwest Britain - making our seas as hot as California. Marine scientists say the water has reached 20.4C (68.7F) off Start Bay, Devon, and 20.1C (68.2F) off Perranporth, Cornwall. That is even warmer than readings taken from Santa Monica beach in Los Angeles, where its currently lagging behind at 19.4C (66.9F) and only 8C short of the sea temperature in Bali. Temperatures off the British coast are also rising by almost 4C a month - twice as fast as normal.... "Increasing sea temperatures will change the community structure and certain species will be better adpated to the warmer temperatures. That's both the microscopic plants, the phytoplankton and the large plants, the kelp. "Jellyfish tend to like warm waters so there might be an increase in the jellyfish population although bathers shouldn;t be unduly concerned." Meanwhile hot temperatures blowing in from Europe are bringing with it pollutants and these are reacting with sunlight to produce a soup of chemical smog which endangers health. ...


It ain't the temperature, it's the toxic haze.

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Fri, Nov 15, 2013
from BBC:
Emissions of CO2 driving rapid oceans 'acid trip' -- 300 million-year-old flashback
The world's oceans are becoming acidic at an "unprecedented rate" and may be souring more rapidly than at any time in the past 300 million years. In their strongest statement yet on this issue, scientists say acidification could increase by 170 percent by 2100. They say that some 30 percent of ocean species are unlikely to survive in these conditions. The researchers conclude that human emissions of CO2 are clearly to blame. The study will be presented at global climate talks in Poland next week. ...


You mean to tell me all that ocean plastic isn't absorbing excess carbon? That was the whole point!

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Sun, Nov 10, 2013
from Foreign Affairs, via WitsEndNJ:
The Devolution of the Seas: The Consequences of Oceanic Destruction
Of all the threats looming over the planet today, one of the most alarming is the seemingly inexorable descent of the world's oceans into ecological perdition. Over the last several decades, human activities have so altered the basic chemistry of the seas that they are now experiencing evolution in reverse: a return to the barren primeval waters of hundreds of millions of years ago.... Over the last 50 years -- a mere blink in geologic time -- humanity has come perilously close to reversing the almost miraculous biological abundance of the deep. Pollution, overfishing, the destruction of habitats, and climate change are emptying the oceans and enabling the lowest forms of life to regain their dominance. The oceanographer Jeremy Jackson calls it 'the rise of slime': the transformation of once complex oceanic ecosystems featuring intricate food webs with large animals into simplistic systems dominated by microbes, jellyfish, and disease. In effect, humans are eliminating the lions and tigers of the seas to make room for the cockroaches and rats. ...


So, you environmentalists have become 'cockroaches and rats'-ists?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 7, 2013
from New York Review of Books (of Stung! by Lisa-ann Gershwin:
Jelly Jolt: On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean
It's now known that the brush of a single tentacle is enough to induce "Irukandji syndrome." It sets in twenty to thirty minutes after a sting so minor it leaves no mark, and is often not even felt. Pain is initially focused in the lower back. Soon the entire lumbar region is gripped by debilitating cramps and pounding pain--as if someone is taking a baseball bat to your kidneys. Then comes the nausea and vomiting, which continues every minute or so for around twelve hours. Shooting spasms grip the arms and legs, blood pressure escalates, breathing becomes difficult, and the skin begins to creep, as if worms are burrowing through it. Victims are often gripped with a sense of "impending doom" and in their despair beg their doctors to put them out of their misery.... If I offered evidence that jellyfish are displacing penguins in Antarctica--not someday, but now, today--what would you think? If I suggested that jellyfish could crash the world's fisheries, outcompete the tuna and swordfish, and starve the whales to extinction, would you believe me?... To understand why jellyfish are taking over, we need to understand where they live and how they breed, feed, and die. Jellyfish are almost ubiquitous in the oceans. As survivors of an earlier, less hospitable world, they can flourish where few other species can venture. Their low metabolic rate, and thus low oxygen requirement, allows them to thrive in waters that would suffocate other marine creatures. Some jellyfish can even absorb oxygen into their bells, allowing them to "dive" into oxygen-less waters like a diver with scuba gear and forage there for up to two hours. ...


That's almost as scary as a government shutdown!

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Wed, Oct 2, 2013
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Wave of jellyfish shuts down Swedish nuke reactor
It wasn't a tsunami but it had the same effect: A huge cluster of jellyfish forced one of the world's largest nuclear reactors to shut down -- a phenomenon that marine biologists say could become more common. Operators of the Oskarshamn nuclear plant in southeastern Sweden had to scramble reactor number three on Sunday after tons of jellyfish clogged the pipes that bring in cool water to the plant's turbines. By Tuesday, the pipes had been cleaned of the jellyfish and engineers were preparing to restart the reactor, which at 1,400 megawatts of output is the largest boiling-water reactor in the world, said Anders Osterberg, a spokesman for OKG, the plant operator. ...


If only they could clog coal fired plant smokestacks.

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Tue, Oct 1, 2013
from The Guardian:
Jellyfish clog pipes of Swedish nuclear reactor, forcing plant shutdown
A huge cluster of jellyfish forced the Oskarshamn plant, the site of one of the world's largest nuclear reactors, to shut down by clogging the pipes conducting cool water to the turbines. Operators of the plant on the Baltic coast in south-east Sweden had to scramble reactor No 3 on Sunday after tons of jellyfish were caught in the pipes.... The species that caused the Oskarshamn shutdown is known as the common moon jellyfish. "It's one of the species that can bloom in extreme areas that ... are over-fished or have bad conditions," said Moller. "The moon jelly likes these types of waters. They don't care if there are algae blooms, they don't care if the oxygen concentration is low. The fish leave ... and [the moon jelly] can really take over the ecosystem." ...


Moon jellies? Lunacy.

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Tue, Jun 4, 2013
from London Guardian:
Jellyfish surge in Mediterranean threatens environment -- and tourists
Scientists across the Mediterranean say a surge in the number of jellyfish this year threatens not just the biodiversity of one of the world's most overfished seas but also the health of tens of thousands of summer tourists. "I flew along a 300km stretch of coastline on 21 April and saw millions of jellyfish," said Professor Stefano Piraino of Salento University in southern Italy. Piraino is the head of a Mediterranean-wide project to track the rise in the number of jellyfish as global warming and overfishing clear the way for them to prosper. "There are now beaches on the island of Lampedusa, which receives 300,000 tourists a year, where people can only swim for a week in the summer," said Piraino. ...


Offer tourists the opportunity to kill the jellyfish and ... problem solved!

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Wed, Aug 22, 2012
from Planet 3.0:
Top Ten Things Aunt Sally Doesn't Know About Climate and Greenhouse Gases
1) Carbon is forever... 2) The next ice age has already been cancelled.... 3) Bugs, weeds, jellyfish, rats.... 4) CO2 disrupts directly.... 5) Rapid increases of atmospheric CO2 poison the ocean.... 9) Until the moment we get this problem under control and for a few decades to follow climate will get not just hotter but more peculiar and fraught with extraordinary events, some of them disruptive.... 10) Uncertainty cuts both ways.... ...


0.1) The Arctic is warming much faster than everywhere else. 0.2) Methane hydrates are released as arctic waters warm.... 0.3) OMG

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Thu, Apr 5, 2012
from BBC:
Jellyfish blooms creating oceans of slime
...Last year alone, nuclear power plants in Scotland, Japan, Israel and Florida, and also a desalination plant in Israel, were forced to shutdown because jellyfish were clogging the water inlets. The entire Irish salmon industry was wiped out in 2007 after a plague of billions of mauve stingers -- covering an area of 10 sq miles (26 sq km) and 35ft (11m) deep -- attacked the fish cages... Perhaps the most extraordinary blooms have been those occurring in waters off Japan. There, refrigerator-sized gelatinous monsters called Nomuras, weighing 485lb (220 kg) and measuring 6.5ft (2m) in diameter, have swarmed the Japan Sea annually since 2002, clogging fishing nets, overturning trawlers and devastating coastal livelihoods. ...


Our only hope is Godzilla.

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Thu, Feb 2, 2012
from BioScience, via EurekAlert:
Are nuisance jellyfish really taking over the world's oceans?
In recent years, media reports of jellyfish blooms and some scientific publications have fueled the idea that jellyfish and other gelatinous floating creatures are becoming more common and may dominate the seas in coming decades. The growing impacts of humans on the oceans, including overfishing and climate change, have been suggested as possible causes of this apparently alarming trend. A careful evaluation of the evidence by Robert H. Condon of Dauphin Island Sea Lab and his 16 coauthors, however, finds the idea that jellyfish, comb jellies, salps, and similar organisms are surging globally to be lacking support. Rather, Condon and his colleagues suggest, the perception of an increase is the result of more scientific attention being paid to phenomena such as jellyfish blooms and media fascination with the topic. Also important is the lack of good information on their occurrence in the past, which encourages misleading comparisons. Condon and his coauthors describe their findings in the February issue of BioScience. Such fossil and documentary evidence as is available indicates that occasional spectacular blooms of jellyfish are a normal part of such organisms' natural history, and may be linked to natural climate cycles. But blooms drew less attention in decades and centuries gone by. ...


It's the unnatural climate cycles that worry me.

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More fun than a barrel of jellyfish!
Mon, Jul 11, 2011
from George Monbiot, in the Guardian:
Have jellyfish come to rule the waves?
Last year I began to wonder, this year doubt is seeping away, to be replaced with a rising fear. Could it really have happened? Could the fishing industry have achieved the remarkable feat of destroying the last great stock? Until 2010, mackerel were the one reliable catch in Cardigan Bay in west Wales. Though I took to the water dozens of times, there wasn't a day in 2008 or 2009 when I failed to take 10 or more. Once every three or four trips I would hit a major shoal, and bring in 100 or 200 fish: enough, across the season, to fill the freezer and supply much of our protein for the year.... I pushed my kayak off the beach and felt that delightful sensation of gliding away from land almost effortlessly - I'm so used to fighting the westerlies and the waves they whip up in these shallow seas that on this occasion I seemed almost to be drifting towards the horizon. Far below me I could see the luminous feathers I used as bait tripping over the seabed. But I could also see something else. Jellyfish. Unimaginable numbers of them. Not the transparent cocktail umbrellas I was used to, but solid, white rubbery creatures the size of footballs. They roiled in the surface or loomed, vast and pale, in the depths. There was scarcely a cubic metre of water without one. Apart from that - nothing. It wasn't until I reached a buoy three miles from the shore that I felt the urgent tap of a fish, and brought up a single, juvenile mackerel. ...


In every gaping void there is an opportunity, right? Right?

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jun 28, 2011
from The Telegraph:
Warming oceans cause largest movement of marine species in two million years
Warming ocean waters are causing the largest movement of marine species seen on Earth in more than two million years, according to scientists. In the Arctic, melting sea ice during recent summers has allowed a passage to open up from the Pacific ocean into the North Atlantic, allowing plankton, fish and even whales to into the Atlantic Ocean from the Pacific. The discovery has sparked fears delicate marine food webs could be unbalanced and lead to some species becoming extinct as competition for food between the native species and the invaders stretches resources.... The highly venomous Portuguese Man-of-War, which is normally found in subtropical waters, is also regularly been found in the northern Atlantic waters.... "In 1999 we discovered a species in the north west Atlantic that we hadn't seen before, but we know from surveys in the north Pacific that it is very abundant there. "This species died out in the Atlantic around 800,000 years ago due to glaciation that changed the conditions it needed to survive. "The implications are huge. The last time there was an incursion of species from the Pacific into the Atlantic was around two to three million years ago.... "Large numbers of species were introduced from the Pacific and made large numbers of local Atlantic species extinct. ...


I like to think of it as species homogenization.

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Sun, Jun 19, 2011
from Sarasota Herald-Tribune:
Are jellyfish a harbinger of dying seas?
Jellyfish, common in the seas for eons, suck so up so much food -- and give back so little -- that a dramatic population increase would gravely threaten the future of oceans worldwide, according to a new study. Jellyfish could send once-productive seas, including the Gulf of Mexico, back to a more primitive state, if theories pointing to striking increases in the gelatinous creatures prove true. They assault the base of the food chain, creating conditions where little can survive but jellyfish and bacteria, new scientific findings published this month reveal.... The findings are a cause for concern because reports of jellyfish blooms are increasing, leading many scientists to speculate that water pollution, global warming and overfishing may be tipping the scales toward conditions more favorable for jellyfish. ...


I hate it when Nature sends us a message.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jun 12, 2011
from Guardian:
Explosion in jellyfish numbers may lead to ecological disaster, warn scientists
Global warming has long been blamed for the huge rise in the world's jellyfish population. But new research suggests that they, in turn, may be worsening the problem by producing more carbon than the oceans can cope with.... The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that while bacteria are capable of absorbing the constituent carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and other chemicals given off by most fish when they die, they cannot do the same with jellyfish. The invertebrates, populating the seas in ever-increasing numbers, break down into biomass with especially high levels of carbon, which the bacteria cannot absorb well. Instead of using it to grow, the bacteria breathe it out as carbon dioxide. This means more of the gas is released into the atmosphere.... Condon's research also found that the spike in jellyfish numbers is also turning the marine food cycle on its head. The creatures devour huge quantities of plankton, thus depriving small fish of the food they need. "This restricts the transfer of energy up the food chain because jellyfish are not readily consumed by other predators," said Condon. ...


There's a Nobel for whoever figures out how to turn jellyfish into oil.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Feb 7, 2011
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Fears for tourists as Florida invaded by Portuguese Man-of-War
Almost 500 people were stung by the jellyfish-like creatures on beaches in Fort Lauderdale on Friday and Saturday, while another 320 were stung 45 miles up the coast in Palm Beach during the weekend. Officials said the US invasion, which numbered several thousand, had ridden in on steady 5-10mph south-easterly winds, which could continue for several more days. Lt. Jim McCrady, a 24-year veteran officer from Fort Lauderdale's Ocean Rescue department, said: "I've never seen this many, ever". Heather Irurzun, an ocean rescue supervisor in Delray Beach for the past 14 years, told the local press: "It's extreme. It is wall-to-wall man-of-war. I've never seen it this bad." Dozens of the creatures, which resemble purple and blue balloons with long tentacles, were washed up on beaches in the region. Their stings can cause swelling and shortness of breath. ...


Those Portuguese need to be sent a message.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Jan 14, 2011
from Yale360:
Massive Outbreak of Jellyfish Could Spell Trouble for Fisheries
Among the spineless creatures of the world, the Nomura's jellyfish is a monster to be reckoned with. It's the size of a refrigerator -- imagine a Frigidaire Gallery Premiere rather than a hotel minibar -- and can exceed 450 pounds. For decades the hulking medusa was rarely encountered in its stomping grounds, the Sea of Japan. Only three times during the entire 20th century did numbers of the Nomura's swell to such gigantic proportions that they seriously clogged fishing nets. Then something changed. Since 2002, the population has exploded -- in jelly parlance, bloomed -- six times. In 2005, a particularly bad year, the Sea of Japan brimmed with as many as 20 billion of the bobbing bags of blubber, bludgeoning fisheries with 30 billion yen in losses.... Now, researchers fear, conditions are becoming so bad that some ecosystems could be approaching a tipping point in which jellyfish supplant fish.... Fish and jellyfish "interact in complex ways," says Kylie Pitt, an ecologist at Griffith University in Australia. Overfishing can throw this complex relationship out of kilter. ...


Every "out of kilter" relationship is an economic opportunity. Somehow.

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Tue, Dec 14, 2010
from Plataforma SINC via ScienceDaily:
Blooming Jellyfish in Northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean: Over-Fishing, Warming Waters to Blame
A study examining over 50 years of jellyfish data by an international team, with the participation of the Balearic Oceanography Centre of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) has confirmed an increase in the size and intensity of proliferations of the jellyfish Pelagia noctiluca. There are several complex reasons for this -- over-fishing and the current increase in sea water temperatures...The increase in jellyfish over the course of the year "directly" affects fisheries, fish farming and tourism "because of the jellyfishes' toxic effects and the poison in their tentacles, and because they appear particularly in the summer, having a significant socioeconomic impact," says Fernandez de Puelles. ...


Let's sic these beasts on climate skeptics!

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Sun, Dec 5, 2010
from Daily Mail:
Jellyfish are taking over the oceans: Population surge as rising acidity of world's seas kills predators
Britain's beaches could soon be inundated with records numbers of jellyfish, marine experts warned today. Scientists say the number of jellyfish are on the rise thanks to the increasing acidity of the world's oceans. The warning comes in a new report into ocean acidification - an often overlooked side effect of burning fossil fuel.... The report, written by Dr Carol Turley of Plymouth University, said: 'Ocean acidification has also been tentatively linked to increased jellyfish numbers and changes in fish abundance.' Jellyfish are immune to the effects of acidification. As other species decline, jellyfish will move in to fill the ecological niche. Populations have boomed in the Mediterranean in recent years. Some marine scientists say the changing chemistry of the sea is to blame.... The report says acidification may push overstressed oceans into disaster with far reaching consequences the billions of people who rely on fish as their main protein source.... 'The basic chemistry of sea water is being altered on a scale unseen within fossil records over at least 20 million years,' the report said. ...


I hear Ashton Kutcher's mistress has a sex tape, and boy is he pissed!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Nov 1, 2010
from BBC:
Jellyfish 'may benefit from ecosystem instability'
A team of researchers have been trying to identify how jellyfish may benefit from marine ecosystems destabilised by climate change and overfishing. There is concern that a rise in jellyfish numbers could prevent depleted commercially important fish stocks recovering to historical levels. However, a study by European scientists says more data is needed to understand what is happening beneath the waves.... In recent years, there have been a number of examples of sudden blooms of jellyfish in European waters - including the Irish, Mediterranean and Black seas - which have killed fish and closed beaches. In 2007, an invasion of mauve stingers (Pelagia noctiluca) wiped out Northern Ireland's only salmon farm, killing more than 100,000 fish.... "It is quite a complicated set of possible linkages that need to be drawn, which we really only have a vague insight at the moment. "For the recent period where we have good data, it appears as if sea surface temperature is the most important variable. "This does not necessarily prove it of course, but it does appear to be benefiting jellyfish." ...


I guess "more study" is not only needed, but will be experienced.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Oct 17, 2010
from Ha'aretz:
New jellyfish seen as evidence of troubled local waters
While the sting of the new visitor is less painful than that of the type of jellyfish that local bathers know all too well, its sighting is another worrisome sign of ecological problems in the Mediterranean.... The presence of this and other invasive jellyfish species in the Mediterranean, including the familiar Rhopilema nomadica, concerns ecologists because they prey on the young of local fish species or consume the food those fish live on. Two weeks ago Galil attended an urgent conference in Istanbul by the Mediterranean regional fishery management organization. Among the recommendations adopted was to encourage the development of local fish that prey on Marivagia and to increase monitoring of ships from the Red Sea that may be hosting the species. However, failure to contain Rhopilema over the years does not bode well for dealing with the new species. ...


They don't even taste like chicken.

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Wed, Aug 4, 2010
from Telegraph.co.uk:
What Lies Beneath The Sea: Census of Marine Life
The Census of Marine Life also points to the effect of so-called "alien species" being found in many of the world's marine ecosystems. The Mediterranean has the largest number of invasive species - most of them having migrated through the Suez Canal from the Red Sea. So far, more than 600 invasive species have been counted, almost 5 per cent of the total marine creatures in the Mediterranean. Those annoying jellyfish on the Spanish holiday beaches may be sending us a message, or at least a warning. In recent years there have been other jellyfish "invasions". In 2007, 100,000 fish at Northern Ireland's only salmon farm were killed by the same "mauve stingers" that are affecting the Spanish beaches. The swarming jellies covered 10 square miles of water. In 2005, and again last year, Japanese fishermen battled swarms of giant Nomura jellyfish, each measuring six feet across and weighing 200kg. Once seen infrequently, they now regularly swarm across the Yellow Sea, making it impossible for Japanese boats to deploy their nets. One fishing boat capsized after the jellyfish became entangled in its nets. There is evidence that the global jellyfish invasion is gathering pace. As Mediterranean turtles lose their nesting sites to beach developments, or die in fishing nets, and the vanishing population of other large predators such as bluefin tuna are fished out, their prey is doing what nature does best: filling a void. Smaller, more numerous species like the jellyfish are flourishing and plugging the gap left by animals higher up the food chain. According to the Spanish environment ministry: "Jellyfish blooms have been increasing in recent years, and one of the suggested causes is the decline in natural predators - as well as climate change and pollution from land-based sources." ...


I'm so happy that I can choose to believe that our actions don't have consequences.

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Sat, Jul 31, 2010
from Charleston Post and Courier:
Jellyfish invasion
Hundreds of stings from these translucent blobs have been reported along the Charleston County coastline since last weekend. Some suspect a swarm of jellies rode in with strong onshore winds and roiling surf. Others wonder if a shift in the Gulf Stream or this week's blast of thunderstorms are to blame. Whatever the reason, they are here -- in force.... The beach parks normally see just a couple of reported stings a month, if any at all. Isle of Palms, however, had 162 reported stings last Sunday and an additional 186 jellyfish run-ins on Tuesday. The number of reported stings on Folly Beach jumped from 15 on Wednesday to 150 the following day, Bowie said. Several stings also were reported at Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island, she said. Among the reports is at least one unconfirmed run-in with a dreaded Portuguese man-of-war, the unofficial king of sting. ...


Hey, Charleston's where the sun and fun is -- wouldn't you be there if you were a jellyfish?

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Sun, Jul 4, 2010
from The Smithsonian Magazine:
Jellyfish: The Next King of the Sea
All around the world, jellyfish are behaving badly--reproducing in astonishing numbers and congregating where they've supposedly never been seen before. Jellyfish have halted seafloor diamond mining off the coast of Namibia by gumming up sediment-removal systems. Jellies scarf so much food in the Caspian Sea they're contributing to the commercial extinction of beluga sturgeon--the source of fine caviar. In 2007, mauve stinger jellyfish stung and asphyxiated more than 100,000 farmed salmon off the coast of Ireland as aquaculturists on a boat watched in horror. The jelly swarm reportedly was 35 feet deep and covered ten square miles. Nightmarish accounts of "Jellyfish Gone Wild," as a 2008 National Science Foundation report called the phenomenon, stretch from the fjords of Norway to the resorts of Thailand...Nobody knows exactly what's behind it, but there's a queasy sense among scientists that jellyfish just might be avengers from the deep, repaying all the insults we've heaped on the world's oceans.... At 39 degrees Fahrenheit, the polyps generated, on average, about 20 teeny jellyfish. At 46 degrees, roughly 40. The polyps in 54-degree seawater birthed some 50 jellies each, and one made 69. A new record, Widmer says, awed. ...


Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water.

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You're still reading! Good for you!
You really should read our short, funny, frightening book FREE online (or buy a print copy):
Humoring the Horror of the Converging Emergencies!
We've been quipping this stuff for more than 30 months! Every day!
Which might explain why we don't get invited to parties anymore.
Fri, Feb 19, 2010
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Penguins in Antarctica to be replaced by jellyfish due to global warming
The results of the largest ever survey of Antarctic marine life reveal melting sea ice is decimating krill populations, which form an integral part of penguins' diets. The six-inch-long invertebrates, also eaten by other higher Southern Ocean predators such as whales and seals, are being replaced by smaller crustaceans known as copepods. These miniscule copepods, measuring just half a millimetre long, are too small for penguins but ideal for jellyfish and other similarly tentacled predators.... Any decrease in sea ice will inevitably affect the delicate balance of the Antarctic marine food chain. For creatures such as penguins who lives on the melting sea ice, a rise in temperatures will also shrink the size of their breeding grounds. ...


How do we film "March of the Jellyfish"?

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Tue, Jan 12, 2010
from Sydney Morning Herald:
Baby boom for deadly 'cockroaches of the sea'
"We're definitely having an irukandji bloom right now, there's no question. We've had at least 15 irukandji stings this season so far, starting December," Dr Gershwin, the director of the Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services, said. "Whether they are actually on the increase in Australia, we don't know." "Overseas there is a lot of data that demonstrates that jellyfish are on the increase globally. Overseas ecosystems, one by one, are flipping to jellyfish dominated ecosystems. "But we don't have data in Australia, simply because no one has been researching the question. "We don't have actual quantitative sampling data. We're just not sure here." ... Chemical imbalances in the water from urban run-off, thermal water changes, pollution, over-fishing or the introduction of new aquatic species, which could drive other species to extinction, do not bother the jellyfish. ...


Something is rotten in Ozmark.

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Thu, Dec 24, 2009
from The Providence Journal:
Paula Moore: Invasion of jellyfish a sign of trouble
World leaders who attended the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen probably did not discuss the invasion of the jellyfish, but perhaps they should. While it might sound like the stuff of a B horror movie, millions of jellyfish -- some the size of refrigerators -- are swarming coastlines from Spain to New York and Japan to Hawaii. Last month, these marauders sank a 10-ton fishing trawler off the coast of Japan after the boat's crew tried to haul in a net containing dozens of huge Nomura jellyfish -- up to 450 pounds each. The best way to fight this growing menace is with our forks. Scientists believe that a combination of climate change, pollution and overfishing is causing the boom in jellyfish populations. Leaving animals, including fish, off our dinner plates will combat all three problems. ...


You'd think a knife would be more effective.

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Mon, Nov 16, 2009
from Associated Press:
Jellyfish swarm northward in warming world
...This year's jellyfish swarm is one of the worst... Once considered a rarity occurring every 40 years, they are now an almost annual occurrence along several thousand kilometers (miles) of Japanese coast, and far beyond Japan. Scientists believe climate change, the warming of oceans, has allowed some of the almost 2,000 jellyfish species to expand their ranges, appear earlier in the year and increase overall numbers, much as warming has helped ticks, bark beetles and other pests to spread to new latitudes. The gelatinous seaborne creatures are blamed for decimating fishing industries in the Bering and Black seas, forcing the shutdown of seaside power and desalination plants in Japan, the Middle East and Africa, and terrorizing beachgoers worldwide, the U.S. National Science Foundation says. ...


Quick! Flee from their gelatinous jaws!

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Fri, Oct 9, 2009
from National Geographic News:
Giant, Mucus-Like Sea Blobs on the Rise, Pose Danger
As sea temperatures have risen in recent decades, enormous sheets of a mucus-like material have begun forming more often, oozing into new regions, and lasting longer, a new Mediterranean Sea study says... Up to 124 miles (200 kilometers) long, the mucilages appear naturally, usually near Mediterranean coasts in summer. The season's warm weather makes seawater more stable, which facilitates the bonding of the organic matter that makes up the blobs.... Now, due to warmer temperatures, the mucilages are forming in winter too -- and lasting for months.... But the new study found that Mediterranean mucilages harbor bacteria and viruses, including potentially deadly E. coli, Danovaro said. ...


Might the mucilage blobs compete with the jellyfish swarms?

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Sat, Sep 12, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
'Unprecedented' level of Portuguese-Man-of-War seen around Britain
MCS said it was the third consecutive year that large numbers of the species have been recorded late in the year on the west coast of the UK. Large swarms of mauve stingers can have economic consequences, the MCS said, killing caged fish in fish farms and making the sea hazardous for bathing, affecting the tourism industry. Peter Richardson, MCS Biodiversity programme manager, said: "Between 2003 and 2006 the MCS jellyfish survey received less than 10 reports of Portuguese-Man-of-War, but in the summers of 2007 and 2008 they started stranding on beaches in the South West in greater numbers. This summer we have received over 60 reports involving hundreds of Portuguese-Man-of-War from Devon, Cornwall and Wales, many more than in previous years, with individuals this year being reported as far north as the Isle of Man." ...


These Portuguese Gangs-of-War are expanding their territory.

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Tue, Jul 21, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk, via DesdemonaDespair:
Giant jellyfish bloom hits Sea of Japan
"The arrival is inevitable," Professor Shinichi Ue, from Hiroshima University, told the Yomiuri newspaper. "A huge jellyfish typhoon will hit the country." The vicious creatures, which would not be out of place in a sci-fi adventure, poison fish, sting humans and have even been known to disabling nuclear power stations by blocking the seawater pumps used to cool the reactors. Nomura's jellyfish first arrived in Japanese waters in 2005 when fisherman out looking for anchovies, salmon and yellowtail began finding large numbers of the gelatinous creatures in their nets. The larger specimens would destroy the nets while the fish caught alongside them would be left slimy and inedible.... Scientists believe the influx could be caused by overfishing, pollution or rising ocean temperatures which have depleted the kinds of fish that normally prey on Nomura's jellyfish at the polyp stage, thereby keeping down numbers. Another theory suggests that seas heated by global warming are better suited for breeding, multiplying the creature's numbers. ...


What an ugly canary!

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Mon, Jun 8, 2009
from ABC News:
Jellyfish threaten to 'dominate' oceans
Giant jelly fish are taking over parts of the world's oceans due to overfishing and other human activities, say researchers... Jellyfish are normally kept in check by fish, which eat small jellyfish and compete for jellyfish food such as zooplankton... But, with overfishing, jellyfish numbers are increasing. Jellyfish feed on fish eggs and larvae, further impacting on fish numbers. To add insult to injury, nitrogen and phosphorous in run-off cause red phytoplankton blooms, which create low-oxygen dead zones where jellyfish survive, but fish can't. ...


If we can figure out a way to create a peanutbutterfish our global food problems are over!

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Tue, Jun 2, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
600ft jellyfish crop circle found in Oxfordshire field
Karen Alexander, a crop circle expert, said: "We have seen butterfly and bird patterns in the past, but this is the first jellyfish crop circle in the world.... It is absolutely huge -- roughly three times the size of most crop patterns and extremely interesting. People have been aghast at the size of it. It is a complete monster. "We are looking into the meaning of it, but at present it just seems to have appeared out of nowhere." Crop circle theorists known as 'croppies' - believe the patterns are created by UFOs during nocturnal visits, or caused by natural phenomena such as unusual forms of lightning striking the earth. But it has been proven the patterns can be easily created by artists. ...


Could this be Gaia saying "this is where you're heading, guys..."?

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Wed, Apr 29, 2009
from U.S. News and World Report:
The Truth Behind Global Jellyfish Swarms
Large swarms of jellyfish and other gelatinous animals -- sometimes covering hundreds of square miles of ocean -- have recently been reported in many of the world's prime vacation and fishing destinations.... Are human-caused environmental problems promoting population explosions of jellies? Various types of environmental problems may promote the formation of jelly swarms. These problems include pollution, the overharvesting of fish, the introduction of non-native jelly species into new habitats, the addition of artificial substrate (like fishing reefs, and various offshore platforms) in the ocean and climate change. ...


Let's not float to conclusions. There's not really proof that we're to blame.

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Sat, Apr 18, 2009
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Swimmers feel sting as jellyfish thrive
Schools of creepy brownish jellyfish known for their painful stings are lurking in San Francisco Bay waving their long, poisonous tentacles like they own the place. Dozens, if not hundreds, of sea creatures known as Pacific sea nettles have been spotted in the bay feeding on small fish and plankton when they aren't stinging swimmers. One touch from a nettle's long, brown tentacles will result in a powerful, numbing jolt that can hurt for hours and sometimes days.... Biologists around the world are concerned about an apparent increase in the number and size of jellyfish blooms of all species. Studies are being conducted to determine whether the prevalence of jellyfish, which reproduce both sexually and asexually, has anything to do with global warming. ...


...and the jellyfish shall inherit the earth...

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Sat, Mar 21, 2009
from Pocono Record:
What jellyfish can tell us about climate change
Acidic ocean water has already affected sea life, from hearty sea corals to the shells of open ocean snails called pteropods, which swim on the surface. The shells of these snails are made out of calcium carbonate, which is starting to dissolve from the acid. Hunt and his fellow researchers observed a startling cascade effect, noting that the young red paper lantern jellyfish roost in the shells of these snails. As the snails have started to wilt from acidic oceans, it has left young red paper lantern jellyfish vulnerable. "If that snail goes, the red lantern goes. If the red lantern goes, maybe the sea spider and shrimp will go. We just don't know," Hunt said. "If we're not careful, we may well hinder some network of species that does impact us." Hunt and his fellow researchers were caught off guard by the speed with which acidic water affected creatures on the ocean surface, which, in turn, rippled thousands of feet below. ...


Ecosystem interrelationships?
Just a theory.

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Tue, Jan 27, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
'Immortal' jellyfish swarming across the world
The Turritopsis Nutricula is able to revert back to a juvenile form once it mates after becoming sexually mature. Marine biologists say the jellyfish numbers are rocketing because they need not die. Dr Maria Miglietta of the Smithsonian Tropical Marine Institute said: "We are looking at a worldwide silent invasion."... The jellyfish are originally from the Caribbean but have spread all over the world. ...


Zombies are bad enough, but immortal jellyfish?

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Sat, Dec 27, 2008
from Toronto Globe and Mail:
It's 'attack of the slime' as jellyfish jeopardize the Earth's oceans
It has been dubbed the "rise of slime." Massive swarms of jellyfish are blooming from the tropics to the Arctic, from Peru to Namibia to the Black Sea to Japan, closing beaches and wiping out fish, either by devouring their eggs and larvae, or out-competing them for food. To draw attention to the spread of "jellytoriums," the National Science Foundation in the U.S. has produced a report documenting that the most severe damage is to fish: In the Sea of Japan, for example, schools of Nomurai jellyfish - 500 million strong and each more than two metres in diameter - are clogging fishing nets, killing fish and accounting for at least $20-million in losses. The Black Sea has suffered $350-million in losses. A region of the Bering Sea is so full of jellies that it was nicknamed "Slime Bank." ...


Move over you cockroaches. It's now the jellyfish who shall inherit the earth.

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Mon, Dec 15, 2008
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Jellyfish on the menu as edible fish stocks become extinct
Fish stocks around Britain have been reduced to 10 per cent of what they were 100 years ago due to overfishing. Common skate and angel fish are already extinct while favourites like cod are in danger of being wiped out.... However scientists have said that unless the system is completely overhauled fish stocks will continue to deplete to the point of extinction by 2048, leaving consumers little option but to eat jellyfish or the small bony species left behind at the bottom of the ocean. ...


Deep-fried, those jellyfish are a little tough. If only the phytoplankton sauce wasn't so bitter!

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Sat, Dec 13, 2008
from NSF, via EurekAlert:
New online report on massive jellyfish swarms released
Massive swarms of stinging jellyfish and jellyfish-like animals are transforming many world-class fisheries and tourist destinations into veritable jellytoriums that are intermittently jammed with pulsating, gelatinous creatures. Areas that are currently particularly hard-hit by these squishy animals include Hawaii, the Gulf of Mexico, the east coast of the U.S., the Bering Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, Australia, the Black Sea and other European seas, the Sea of Japan, the North Sea and Namibia.... From large swarms of potentially deadly, peanut-sized jellyfish in Australia to swarms of hundreds of millions of refrigerator-sized jellyfish in the Sea of Japan, suspicion is growing that population explosions of jellyfish are being generated by human activities. ...


Refrigerator-sized jellyfish in the hundreds of millions? Is it possible they are now predator-free?

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Tue, Oct 14, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
Bleak warning that UK fish face extinction
A hidden catastrophe is unfolding off the coasts of Britain which could leave our seas filled with only algae and jellyfish, a leading conservation organisation warns today. The Marine Conservation Society says severe overfishing is the biggest environmental threat facing Britain and is having a profound effect on marine ecosystems. The warning comes in Silent Seas, a report released as the government prepares its marine bill for parliament.... Simon Brockington, head of conservation at the MCS, said: "There's a moral imperative: we simply shouldn't be living in such a way that drives species to extinction." ...


Not only other species, Simon: ourselves, too.

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Mon, Aug 18, 2008
from London Independent:
Jellyfish invasion: Britain to fight them on the beaches
"The growing threat from swarms of jellyfish around Britain's coast is to be investigated for the first time by British and Irish scientists. Using the latest technology, researchers are planning to tag jellyfish to explore their life cycles and movement in a project known as Ecojel." ...


They'll tag the jellyfish, yell "you're it!" then run away before they get stung.

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Wed, Jul 23, 2008
from TIME:
When Jellyfish Attack
Beaches from Marseille to Monaco have been plagued this summer by millions of the gelatinous invaders, whose burning stings have sent scores of holiday-makers fleeing the surf with yelps of pain since large numbers of jellyfish were first sighted along France's coast in June. And those menacing the shorelines are simply the outriders of giant shoals that marine biologists have identified hovering between Corsica and France's southern shores.... Overfishing and other destructive human activity have prompted the prolific multiplication of jellyfish by decimating their natural predators: tuna, sharks and turtles. ...


A new status symbol:
"Oh yes, I got these stings swimming off Monaco."

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Sun, Mar 2, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
Scientists warn of new plague of jellyfish in Spain
"The problem seen on the beaches is not the main concern for scientists," said Professor Gili, "For us the major worry is the global disequilibrium in the sea caused by over-fishing." As a result of over-fishing, the jellyfish do not have to face their usual predators and competitors, which usually regulate population growth. Numbers of large fish such as swordfish and red tuna, which eat jellyfish, have been drastically reduced by bad fishing practices, as have the smaller fish, such as sardines and whitebait, which compete for food with the stingers.... "Spectacular growth has been found in jellyfish populations in Japan, Namibia, Alaska, Venezuela, Peru, Australia ... this is an international ecological problem," Gili said. ...


Perhaps we have to figure out
how to make jellyfish gumbo.
Mmmm.

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Sat, Feb 9, 2008
from The Telegraph (UK):
Killer jellyfish population explosion warning
"It could easily have been the role model for the terrifying creature in the film 'Alien'. A perfect toxin-loaded killing machine, there is no creature on earth that can dispatch a human being so easily or so quickly. The box jellyfish is so packed with venom that the briefest of touches can bring agonising death within 180 seconds. And if comes under sustained attack it responds by sending its compatriots into a super-breeding frenzy in which millions of replacements are created. The really bad news is that the box jellyfish and another equally poisonous species, Irukandji, are on the move. Scientists are warning that their populations are exploding and will pose a monumental problem unless they are stopped." ...


And if these jellyfish ever hook up with the dreaded peanutbutterfish, it will truly signal the end of all hope.

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Tue, Jan 8, 2008
from The Daily Green:
Carbon Isn't the Only Global Cycle Out of Whack
"The world is getting familiar with the carbon cycle and how pumping carbon that's been buried for millions of years into the atmosphere causes some global problems. Well, get ready to learn about nitrogen. Like carbon, the nitrogen cycle is all out of whack. In this case, the origins are similar. Instead of burning petroleum or coal, nitrogen comes from natural gas transformed into ammonia fertilizer and used to grow crops; what doesn't absorb into the soil runs off into streams, which flow into rivers, which flow to the ocean, where the nitrogen fuels "dead zones" -- areas where nitrogen (and phosphorus) fertilizes so much algae growth that it absorbs enough oxygen to make the water inhospitable to fish and other marine life. Jellyfish are about the only thing that thrives in these conditions; corals certainly do not." ...


If "dead zones" sounds like the title of a Steven Seagal film, then this action flick is more akin to a mega-disaster film.

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