Mediterranean resorts menaced as stinging jellyfish arrive early
Monday 23 June 2008
For the eighth successive year, the resorts of the north Mediterranean coast are threatened by a monstrous-looking primeval creature from the depths, the jellyfish.
Although injuries to bathers have been rare, marine biologists have spotted vast shoals of "mauve stingers" or Pelagia noctiluca in the waters between Corsica and the French mainland. From next week, the town of Cannes will erect booms and nets around its most popular beaches to try to protect bathers from the nasty, but rarely fatal, burn-like sting of the invaders.
An aerial survey, Jellywatch, is also under way off the Italian and Greek coasts to try to monitor the movements of the jellyfish, which are not fish but a a kind of giant plankton. Scientists say the large eruption of Pelagia noctiluca this summer is final proof of a radical, and possibly irreversible, change in the ecology of the Mediterranean.
For centuries, plagues of jellyfish have come inshore every 10 or 12 years and lingered along the Côte d'Azur for periods of about four years. This pattern has now changed. The jellyfish have appeared each year for the past eight years in far greater numbers than before. Some scientists and ecological campaigners point to a rise in sea temperature, linked to the warming of the planet. Others blame a shortage of natural predators such as the bluefin tuna and the turtle, which have been driven almost to extinction by overfishing and pollution.
Professor Gabriel Gorsky of the Observatoire Océanographique at Villefranche-sur Mer, also points to changes in the wind and current patterns, changes which may also be linked to global warming. Jellyfish live deep in the sea during the day but rise to the surface at night to feed. Abrupt changes in wind and current can then carry them onshore. Denis Ody of the World Wildlife Fund, based in Marseilles, said: "I was on the sea between Corsica and the mainland two weeks ago and for several hours we passed through immense areas where you could count 60 jellyfish a minute."
This year's jellyfish invasion coincides with a row between the European Commission and the French government and fishermen about alleged overfishing of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean. Brussels ordered the fishery to close last week after calculating that the whole of the 2008 quota for European boats had already been caught. Paris is pushing for an "emergency" reopening of the fishery. Marine biologists warn that this could not only threaten the survival of the tuna; it could also prove uncomfortable for holidaymakers.
- 1 The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath
- 2 It won’t work, Jeremy: The Health Secretary has lost the confidence of the medical profession in his attempt to reform the NHS
- 3 Uber's real-time nearby cars map is fake, data experts claim
- 4 Kim Jong-un awarded global statesmanship prize by Indonesia
- 5 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
Nasa discovers yet another rocky exoplanet, and it's only 21 light years away
Labour rallies behind Flint as deputy leader to offset a Corbyn win
Kim Jong-un awarded global statesmanship prize by Indonesia
Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
Calais crisis: Migrants that have made it to the UK reveal how Britain has matched their expectations
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Calais crisis: The seven claims made about the migrants - and the reality
£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...
£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...