By Craig Baird
Jellyfish are an odd creature inhabiting the oceans of our planet. Most of us only know them as the creatures who burn our feet when we step on them on the sand, or hit them in the ocean.
Well, the once humble jellyfish is experiencing a massive population boom and the ocean is littered with massive swarms of jellyfish, posing threats to swimmers, fishing and the nuclear power industry. Evidence of the immense population boom can be seen in the Black Sea, where 1,000 fish sized jellyfish can be found in one cubic meter, during a blooming period for the species. This massive swarm eats the eggs of fish and wipes out the food of the entire sea, causing hardship for the fishermen. Even captured fish can be killed when a jellyfish is caught in the net, and these swarms are also clogging the engines of boats on the Sea and in the oceans.
This is a problem that has only been getting worse. Roughly 500,000,000 jellyfish weighing 450 pounds each are hitting the Sea of Japan on a daily basis, and Australian beaches are overrun with the jellyfish. Tourist beaches across the planet are being closed on a more frequent basis as more and more jellyfish begin to appear and take over the shorelines.
On top of all this, jellyfish are beginning to clog water intake pipes of nuclear power plants, causing some to have to shut down, including one in the Philippines that caused 40,000,000 people to sit in darkness.
Jellyfish are called the cockroaches of the sea because they can thrive under many conditions, and are now experiencing population booms because of the changes in the oceans, brought on by man-made influences. The jellyfish is linked to ocean pollution, and in areas called ‘dead zones’, where there is little oxygen because of pollution, jellyfish dominate as the only species able to survive there. As well, the only enemies jellyfish have are sea turtles, and all but seven species of sea turtles are listed as threatened, in decline or endangered.
The warming seas from global warming are also allowing the jellyfish to spread wild and thrive.
With most fish stocks expected to be extinct by 2048, all that may be left in the once thriving oceans will be jellyfish, and try as we might, I don’t think we will ever see that on the menu at a restaurant.
The jellyfish are an early warning sign of the effects of global warming and man on our oceans. Unless we do something now, our oceans could become dominated by the jellyfish, making it one of the most dominant species on the planet.