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Forget the cockroach, jellyfish shall inherit the planet

If global warming increases the surface area covered by ocean as predicted, jellyfish may ride the waves of the future. Not those landlubber cockroaches.

If global warming increases the surface area covered by ocean as predicted, jellyfish may ride the waves of the future. Not those landlubber cockroaches. There's a new summary put together by the National Science Foundation. It summarizes the recent increase in jellyfish invasions across the globe.

The increasing number of jellyfish swarms are being encouraged by a variety of man-made environmental changes. They're are definitely linked to ocean pollution. there are now oxygen-starved dead zones in the oceans so polluted that jellyfish are the only creatures able to survive. Also, their major natural enemy are sea turtles but all seven sea-turtle species are now indecline and threatened. And warming seas make it easier for the various soft-bodied critters to spread and thrive. They don't do well on ice.

Gelatinous swimmer swarms can be so great they destroy all the other fauna, they've even caused nuclear power plants to shut down by clogging pipes. This would make jellyfish natural terrorists and threats to homeland security wherever they invade. No continent is immune.

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Sea nettle, an abundant Arctic jellyfish with 20' tentacles. Photo courtesy NSF and Kevin Raskoff.

Since the 1980s this potent stinger has increased in number in the Bering Sea, and expanded its range. Apparently they are not unstoppable, even jellyfish have to eat. And limited food supplies have capped the number of jellyfish that can crowd into the valuable fishing grounds of the Bering Sea.

Here's some of what the NSF report has to say about the jellyfish swarms. "Jellyfish swarms have also damaged fisheries, fish farms, seabed mining operations, desalination plants and large ships. And proving that jellyfish can be political animals, knots of jellyfish have done the work of anti-nuclear activists: they have disabled nuclear power plants by clogging intake pipes. In short, since the 1980s, worldwide jellyfish blooms have caused hundreds of millions--or perhaps even billions--of dollars in losses."

Much of the recent research into these jellyfish swarms is heavily dependent on high tech submersibles, and computer modelling that can quantify the complex factors affecting jellyfish blooms and busts.