Environmental change and jellyfish swarms gone wild..
Environmental change and jellyfish swarms gone wild...
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 15 December, 2008 : - - Huge swarms of stinging jellyfish are ruining beaches in Hawaii, the Gulf of Mexico, the Mediterranean, Australia and elsewhere, U.S. researchers reported last Friday. 150 million people are exposed to jellyfish globally every year, with 500,000 people stung in the Chesapeake Bay, USA alone.
Another 200,000 are stung every year in Florida, and 10,000 are stung in Australia by the deadly Portuguese man-of-war, according to the report, a broad review of jellyfish research. NSF reports (details below) more than 1,000 fist-sized comb jellies can be found in a cubic yard (meter) of Black Sea water during a bloom. They eat the eggs of fish and compete with them for food, wiping out the livelihoods of fishermen.
Human activities that could be making things nice for jellyfish include pollution, climate change, introductions of non-native species, overfishing and building artificial structures such as oil and gas rigs. Creatures called salps cover up to 38,600 square miles (100,000 sq km) of the North Atlantic in a regular phenomenon called the New York Bight, but researchers said this may be a natural cycle.
NSF Report : JELLYFISH BY THE NUMBERS
1. 1/3 of the total weight of all life in Monterey Bay is from gelatinous animals.
2. 1 microsecond is the time it takes a jellyfi sh stinger to hit its target. The discharge of the jellyfi sh’s stinger is among the fastest movements in nature.
3. 3 minutes after a person is stung by Chironex fl eckeri--a species of box jellyfi sh that is the most venomous animal in the world—s/he may be dead.
4. 8 years after fast-reproducing comb jellies invaded the Black Sea, they dominated it. By 1990, the total biomass of the Black Sea’s comb jellies, which had been introduced into the Black Sea in 1982, totaled about 900 million tons—more than ten times the weight of the total annual fi sh catch from all of the world’s oceans.
5. 20 to 40 people are killed annually from box jellyfi sh stings in the Philippines alone. On average, one person is killed annually by box jellyfi sh in Australia.
6. 100-foot-long tentacles dangle from large lion’s mane jellies. A 100-foot tentacle is long enough to extend from the bottom to the top of a 10-story building.
7. 130 feet is the approximate length of some Siphonophores--long, linear jellyfi sh-like animals that live in the open ocean. By comparison, the maximum length of the Blue Whale, the largest mammal on Earth, is about
8. 400+ vast marine Dead Zones, which are each too polluted for almost all life except jellyfi sh, currently cover a total area of almost 100,000 square miles around the world. The number of global Dead Zones has doubled about every 10 years since the 1960s. During the summer of 2008, the Gulf of Mexico’s Dead Zone covered about 8,000 square miles, about the size of Massachusetts.
9. 1,000+ fi st-sized comb jellies fi lled each cubic meter of water in Black Sea jelly blooms.
10. 6,000 oil and gas rigs along with various types of debris--including a submerged aircraft carrier, a discarded bridge and acres of shopping carts--are currently planted on the fl oor of the Gulf of Mexico. Scientists suspect that these structures create habitat for young jellyfi sh (polyps) that cling to hard surfaces.
11. 38,600 square miles of the North Atlantic (called the New York Bight) have been periodically covered by blooms of salps, a jellyfi sh-like creature. Scientists believe that these blooms are natural phenomenon that are not caused by human activities.
12. 45,000 eggs may be released daily by a single sea nettle in the Chesapeake Bay. A single Mnemiopsis (a common species of comb jelly) may release 8,000 eggs daily.
13. 150 million people are annually exposed to jellyfi sh around the world. About 500,000 people are annually stung by jellyfi sh in the Chesapeake Bay. About 200,000 people are annually stung by jellyfi sh in Florida. About 10,000 people are annually stung in Australia by the dreaded Portuguese man-of-war; many other species of gelatinous creatures also cause large numbers of stings in Australia.
14. $350 million in losses to the Black Sea’s fi shing and tourism industries resulted from the invasion of the comb jelly into the Black Sea. Losses from the ongoing comb jelly invasion of the Caspian Sea are expected to exceed those from the Black Sea invasion.
15. 500 million Nomurai jellyfi sh–which may each weigh up to 450 pounds and sport a bell up to seven feet in diameter--fl oated into the Sea of Japan daily during recent summer Nomurai blooms. Resulting losses to fi shermen in just one Japanese prefecture have, thus far, totaled at least $20 million. (Problem Nomurai have been reported in at least 17 Japanese prefectures.)
16. 500 million years+ is the approximate amount of time that gelatinous animals have lived on Earth.
Nati onal Science Foundation (NSF)
Enviromenet - Surfersvillage