A Plague of Jellyfish Headed for the U.K.

Illustration for article titled A Plague of Jellyfish Headed for the U.K.

Last year, roaming mega-packs of jellyfish wiped out an entire Irish salmon farm stocked with 100,000 fish and forced the closures of several beaches in the U.K. In some areas, jellyfish have become so populous that they've taken over: 90 percent of the Black Sea's fauna are jellyfish (pictured). Of course climate change and overfishing are the cause. Warmer waters plus the elimination of the jellyfish's natural predators allow the delicate, stinging creatures to reproduce in unprecedented numbers. At least the Welsh and Irish are doing something about it. A new program starting up at Swansea and Cork Universities called EcoJel will devote over half a million pounds to the study of the jellyfish invasion. The (literally) brainless creatures will be tagged so their migration patterns and preferred environments can be tracked. And researchers will also look at the impact the wiggly Cnidiarians have on coastal ecosystems. Very little is known about jellyfish, so the scientists view this as an opportunity to learn as much as they can. Or a chance to eat a tasty new sea-going treat. Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones suggested:

[The jellyfish] could provide an eco-tourist attraction for recreational divers. The project will also explore the potential of harvesting jellyfish in a sustainable way for food to export to Asian markets.


That's the spirit: Climate change is an opportunity, not a disaster! We can all start eating more jellyfish, or going on tours to see them. EcoJel [Swansea University via TreeHugger]

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Chris Braak

@tetracycloide: Yeah, it is a little worrisome. There is no recorded data that the Gulf of Mexico has, in the past, been covered by a gigantic net of jellyfish—which doesn't prove that there are more jellyfish now than there were before, but there is complementary evidence showing that conditions are optimal for a large jellyfish bloom, and a population of jellyfish this big...I don't know. I worry that if something like that had happened before, someone probably would have noticed and written it down.

In any case: jellyfish—they aren't like us.