Jellyfish swarms or blooms may be the result of climate change










Thousands of blue blubber jellyfish washed up on the Australian east coast in a spectacular sight.

Sand was barely visible at Queensland's Deception Bay at the weekend when thousands of jellyfish stranded themselves in a phenomenon known as bloom.

Charlotte Lawson, 24, captured the blue-glowing beach on Sunday after noticing an unusual colour in the water. She told the Telegraph that she believes they washed up with the morning tide.

"[When] we got closer we realised it was jellyfish," she told the BBC. "It was like bubble wrap across the beach."


"Jellyfish bloom is part of their lifecycle and if the winds blow just right and if the water level falls with the tide, then they get stranded," marine biologist Dr Lisa-Ann Gershwin, who specialises in jellyfish, told ABC News.

"We see jellyfish bloom, but not like this, this is jaw dropping," the biologist said, adding the bloom, which she described as a "wallpaper of jellyfish", was the biggest she had seen in her 25 years of research.

Ms Lawson told the Brisbane Times that while the bloom happens every year "there's never been this many, this year it's been heaps." 

"There was only a metre of sand between the jellyfish and the concrete," she said, estimating the jellyfish carpet was between four to six metres wide.

The common blue blubber jellyfish grows to 35 centimetres in diameter and is not normally dangerous to humans unlike the infamous bluebottle, also known as Portuguese man o' war, or the at times deadly Irukandji, which is found further north.

The blubber jellyfish sting, however, can hurt and a hot shower is recommended to treat any marine sting in south-east Queensland, Surf Live Saving Queensland says. 

"They are really common in south-east Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria," Dr Gershwin told ABC. 

As scientists predicted, after less than a week the jellyfish have almost completely gone from the beach about 30km north of Brisbane. Ms Lawson told the Telegraph on Friday that "just a couple" of them are left.

Dr Gershwin said she believed the combination of factors including northerly winds, tide conditions and warmer waters caused the jellyfish to strand in such numbers.


Scientists across the Mediterranean say a surge in the number of jellyfish this year threatens not just the biodiversity of one of the world's most overfished seas but also the health of tens of thousands of summer tourists.

"I flew along a 300km stretch of coastline on 21 April and saw millions of jellyfish," said Professor Stefano Piraino of Salento University in southern Italy. Piraino is the head of a Mediterranean-wide project to track the rise in the number of jellyfish as global warming and overfishing clear the way for them to prosper.

"Citizen scientists" armed with smartphones and a special app are now tracking them along thousands of miles of Mediterranean coastline. Population growth has continued over the four years of the project, and appears to be part of a global phenomenon, with most coastal areas studied around the world also reporting a rise in numbers.

"There are now beaches on the island of Lampedusa, which receives 300,000 tourists a year, where people can only swim for a week in the summer," said Piraino.

Josep María Gili, a veteran jellyfish researcher at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Barcelona, said: "It is a growing problem in the Mediterranean, as it is in the rest of the world. But the problem is at its greatest in the open sea."

The institute has detected a surge this spring in one of the most poisonous species, the mauve stinger or Pelagia noctiluca, along the coast of Catalonia and Valencia. "We have seen banks several kilometres long and with a density of 30 to 40 jellyfish per square metre," the institute's Verónica Fuentes told Spain's ABC newspaper. "The ones we have found this spring are particularly big."

Gili said this was mostly surprising because the mauve stingers were close to beaches. "Normally, that size of jellyfish does not reach the coast because of the temperature of the water," he said.

Other badly hit coastlines include Sardinia, Sicily, Malta and the eastern Mediterranean beaches of Israel and the Lebanon.

Piraino said at least 150,000 people were treated for jellyfish stings around the Mediterranean each summer.

Global warming, overfishing and human intervention – especially breakwaters that protect sandy beaches but provide a home for larvae – are all blamed. As predators disappear, population surges are happening with greater frequency.

"The jellyfish that we see on the beach is really the sea sending us a message in a bottle, saying: 'Look what is happening to me,'" Gili said.

"The socio-economic impact on tourist areas is huge," said Piraino. "We are losing millions of euros."

Beaches in Catalonia are rarely affected for more than 15 days each summer, but some Mediterranean resorts are now considering using two-metre-deep nets to fence off safe zones for bathers.

The best protection against stings is suncream, which prevents the venom released by the tentacles from penetrating the skin.

Piraino said knowledge of jelly fish populations was still relatively scant and it was impossible to predict how big a problem they might become this summer. "We do not know enough, but we have to be ready," he said.

Not everyone is appalled by the gelatinous creatures and their stings. The Chinese have been eating them for 5,000 years and export some $20m worth each year. Chinese immigrants in Sicily have also begun to harvest them.

Scientists also point to at least one species of Mediterranean jellyfish – the fried egg jellyfish or Cotylorhiza tuberculata – as a potential source of raw materials for cancer treatments and antioxidants.



HOLIDAYS MAJORCA 2010 - Jellyfish Species in the Mediterranean

Fried Egg Jellyfish / Medusa Huevo Frito (Cotylorhiza Tuberculata)

Sting level: not very painful.

They are yellow and look like a fried egg, usually 17cm wide. They are common in the Mediterranean during summer and autumn. These jellyfish can sting and cause temporary itching, but do not require medical assistance.

Common Jellyfish / Medusa Común (Aurelia Aurita)

Sting level: not very painful.

Round, like a cup, usually white with pink or blue tones and have long tentacles, they are normally about 25cm wide. They are easy to find near the coast in Majorca. Contact causes irritation and itching. Applying ice may reduce symptoms, but medical assistance is not required.

Compass Jellyfish / Medusa de Compases (Chrysaora Hysoscella)

String level: painful.

Looks like an umbrella, usually white and yellow, they are around 20cm wide. They are not very common near the coast of Majorca, but live in the Mediterranean Sea. Causes an itching and burning sensation and can scar the skin for up to 3 weeks. 

Shiff Arms Jellyfish / Aguamala (Rhizostoma Pulmo)

Sting level: painful

They are one of the more beautiful jellyfish in Majorca and are about 50cm wide. They are bluish with a purple ribbon and have 8 tentacles, which if touched causes pain, but no other effects. 

Pink jellyfish (Pelagia Noctiluca)

Sting level: painful and dangerous.

It is a 10cm fluorescent jellyfish, transparent with pink or purple tones. It has 16 long tentacles that can cause pain, burning, nausea and muscle cramps. They are not very common in Majorca, but if seen do not touch!



Portuguese Man o’War / Fragata Portuguesa (Physalia Physalis)

Sting level: very painful and extremely dangerous.

Not technically a jellyfish, but treated as one. The most dangerous sea creature found in the Mediterranean, but are not usually found in Majorca. It floats on the sea, has a purple colour and is about 10cm high. Its tentacles can be 2 meters long and they are fast swimmers. They can cause extreme pain, fever, burns to the skin and neurological shock. Due to their dangerous nature, the Spanish Coastguard keeps watch for them and reports are issued on the local TV, radio and newspapers if they approach the coast. 



Purple Sail or Velella / Medusa Velero (Velella Velella)

Sting level: not harmful to humans.

As with the previous one, not technically a jellyfish, but treated as one. With an approximate diametre of 6cm, they have a transparent stiff sail and their body is deep blue with circles. It is a carniverous species, catching their prey with its tentacles and are very difficult to spot. They move by catching the wind on their sails. Their venom is not harmful to humans. 

What to do if there are jellyfish at the beach?

Do not get in the water, keep an eye on the shore too.
If one jellyfish is spotted, there will probably be more around.
Do not touch them even when they appear dead. It takes 24 hours for the sun to deactivate their poison.
If stung:

a. Do not scratch the skin with sand or a towel.

b. Do not pour fresh water over the affected area.

c. Apply ice for 15 minutes. Ice must be inside a plastic bag to avoid fresh water melting onto the affected area. If the area is still painful, seek medical attention.












Telegraph science 2017 02 03 blanket-blue-blubber-jellyfish-covers-queensland-beach
The Guardian environment 2013 June jellyfish-surge-mediterranean-environment-tourists








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