Jumpin’ Jellyfish: Numbers Explode with Ocean Warming and Overfishing
Jan 31, 2014 12:45PM
Favorite destination beach resorts around the world have seen huge increases in jellyfish “bloom” activity. “Jellyfish and tourism are not happy bedfellows,” says Dr. Lisa-ann Gershwin, Ph.D., a pioneering marine biologist and author of Stung! On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean. “In Florida, it’s not uncommon in recent years for a half a million people to be stung during an outbreak.”
A report, Review of Jellyfish Blooms in the Mediterranean and Black Sea, written by Fernando Borea for the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean and the United Nations, cites both global warming and overfishing, which removes jellyfish predators, as causes for recent jellyfish population explosions.
Of the more than 2,000 species of jellyfish swimming through the world’s waters, most are completely harmless. However, human contact with some types can cause excruciating pain, and the box jellyfish is among the handful of species that have caused fatalities around the globe.
Gershwin says, “Australia is upfront about its jellyfish dangers and also assertive in safety management, whereas other places have them, but may understand less about them or in some cases, just don’t want to say. Tourists need to be aware of local hazards and not expect to necessarily be provided with pertinent information.”