They cause power outages, clog nuclear plant cooling systems, and, of course, sting swimmers worldwide. They have no brains but as a group comprising thousands of species, they smartly adapt to changing ocean ecosystems. Jellyfish are proliferating and scientists can’t agree on why. Perhaps it is overfishing of their predators. Or pollution. Or warming of the oceans. Regardless, according to the recent Smithsonian Magazine article on the topic, “a number of environmental conditions that favor jellyfish are predicted to become more common. Jellyfish reproduce and move into new niches so rapidly that even within 40 years, some experts predict “regime shifts” in which jellyfish assume dominance in one marine ecosystem after another.”
Another unintended consequence of human living. How can we help? We can support sustainable initiatives involving oceans. Perhaps we should avoid eating jellyfish predators – red tuna, swordfish and sea turtles – and support their habitats. Japan is tackling its jellyfish overpopulation problem by eating them; adding jellyfish to the menu – jellyfish ice cream, for example. Also available for human consumption is dried and salted jellyfish. Cannonball jellyfish are plentiful and edible.
And watch out next time you hop in the ocean – anywhere.