Off Haifa, a swarm of giant jellyfish stains the sea
A giant swarm of jellyfish has been spotted off Haifa, the sprawling mass of creatures making the white-flecked water appear from above, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority said Wednesday.
The authority released images of the swarm, spotted on Tuesday, after scores of gelatinous sea dwellers had already made landfall this summer and washed up on beaches all along Israel’s coast.
The Nature and Parks Authority said human behavior helped to increase the intensity of jellyfish swarms.
“Many things humans do contribute to the spread of jellyfish, including the digging of the Suez Canal, pollution of the sea with sewage, climate change, and jellyfish predators such as sunfish and sea turtles. This is another reason to preserve the sea,” the environmental body said in a statement.
Most of the jellyfish that visit Israel are invasive migratory species that originated in the Indian Ocean and are thought to have reached the eastern Mediterranean via the Suez Canal.
The tentacles of jellyfish can sting and inject venom in humans, usually resulting in mild to severe discomfort and, in rare cases, extreme pain or even death.
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While jellyfish have invaded Israel’s Mediterranean coast for decades, scientists have little understanding of the rules by which they live and move and struggle to predict when the swarms will appear, what specific species they will be made up of, and how many time they will stay.
Jellyfish are also a threat to Israel’s electricity supply as they are sucked into the country’s power plants, which use seawater for cooling.
In 2016, researchers from the University of Haifa looked at when a power plant was hardest hit by jellyfish and correlated it with the moon and water temperatures, concluding that there was a link between the annual arrival of sea creatures and the phase of the moon.
A Hebrew language website exists for Israeli swimmers looking to avoid jellyfish.