Thousands of jellyfish swarm near Israel, fascinating footage reveals
Jellyfish swarm in large numbers in the Mediterranean Sea near the port city of Haifa in northern Israel. The sea was “dazzled with thousands of white dots”, according to The post of Jerusalem (opens in a new tab)which also reported that the swarm extended below the surface to depths of several hundred meters.
Officials from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (NPA) captured footage of the nomadic jellyfish swarming (Nomadic Rhopilema) in Haifa Bay on July 20 using aerial drones, and they shared the footage on the agency’s website (opens in a new tab). The NPA has also advised people against swimming in the area, due to the risk of painful jellyfish stings.
This unusually high concentration of jellyfish individuals, also known as a bloom, likely results from human activities which may include Pollution and climate change NPA representatives said in a press release (opens in a new tab) (translated from Hebrew).
An explosion in jellyfish numbers this summer could have catastrophic consequences for the marine ecosystem near Haifa‘s coast, and could even affect industry and tourism, NPA marine ecologist Ruthy Yahel said in the communicated.
“We see great damage in many areas, such as ecological competition with fish for food, economic damage, clogging of desalination plant pumps, cooling of power plants, damage to fishermen and the public who keep their feet on the beaches because of the combustion [from jellyfish stings]”, Yahel said. (Remember: despite the urban legend, do not treat jellyfish stings with urine, which can cause the jellyfish’s stinging cells to release more venom. Instead, pull out the tentacles with a tool — not your bare fingers — and splash something acidic, like vinegar, on the wound, Live Science previously reported.)
Related: Scientists inserted disco ‘strobe lights’ into jellyfish to see how they work without a brain
(opens in a new tab)
Jellyfish are commonplace off the coast of Israel during the summer, and large blooms were reported in 2015 and 2017, the Jerusalem Post reported. The University of Haifa maintains a website that follows the swarms of jellyfish (opens in a new tab) using reports from open water swimmers, divers, boaters, anglers, surfers, paddlers and kayakers. Its interactive map helps fishing boats and beachgoers avoid areas of the ocean and beaches where swarms of jellyfish have been spotted.
The wandering jellyfish, currently the most common jellyfish species in the waters near Haifa, is an invasive species native to the tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans. Scientists suspect jellyfish invaded the Mediterranean from the Indian Ocean using the Suez Canal – the man-made waterway in Egypt that connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea via the Isthmus of Suez – CNN reported (opens in a new tab) in 2015.
One of the possible causes of jellyfish blooms, like the recently observed event, could be pollution; jellyfish may have flocked to this region in record numbers to escape sewage and disperse solid waste that is being pumped into the ocean, according to the NPA statement. Overfishing and shrinking populations of sea animals that compete with or feed on jellyfish, like sunfish, like sea turtles, could also explain why jellyfish are especially plentiful this year, researchers said. said NPA representatives.
Climate change could also play a role in the jellyfish boom in Haifa, said Dror Angel, a marine ecologist in the Department of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa. The post of Jerusalem (opens in a new tab). “The past Winter was very rainy and cold at times. It may have affected the intensity of the flowers and their life cycle,” Angel said. ‘algae, plankton and more food for jellyfish.’
Originally posted on Live Science.