I Don’t Think You’re Ready, For This Jelly

In Sweden, jellyfish populations overwhelmed and clogged a nuclear power plant’s pipes. These pipes turned out to be extremely important as they cool the plant’s turbines, and the nuclear power plant had to shut down. A year before, the same thing happened in California. In less extreme cases, yet still costly, large amounts of jellyfish have clogged fishing nets and damaged fishing gear. All of these jellyfish problems have raised eyebrows, and when scientists looked into jellyfish populations, they found that jellyfish are blooming more often, earlier, more intensely, and staying longer.

Around the world, jellyfish populations are booming. While this may not seem like such a big deal, it is yet another sign of climate change and environmental degradation, one that is costing various industries millions of dollars. In addition, the jellyfish feed on plankton, crustaceans, small fish, and fish eggs, which are all food resources of which larger mammals such as whales rely on. Jellyfish are thriving in places the don’t usually thrive, and this is seen as a sign that oceans around the world are stressed or unhealthy.

Map of population trends of native and invasive species of jellyfish

***Jellyfish population trends. Red indicates an increase with a high degree of certainty, while orange indicates an increase with a low degree of certainty. Blue indicates a decrease. Green represents a stable or variable population. Grey indicates no data.***

In areas where jellyfish populations have boomed causing nuclear power plants to shutdown, scientists have found that the species is causing the damage is the common moon jellyfish. This species of jellyfish thrives in areas of the ocean that have been “overfished or have bad conditions.” Bad conditions refers to anything from toxic chemicals, fertilizers, and too much trash in the oceans. Overfishing leaves lots of open space for the jellyfish to thrive, and when the fish are gone, jellyfish have the chance to dominate the ecosystem. It seems as though we have another case where humans have exploited the environment and caused detrimental effects.

What You Can Do To Help

One of the biggest problems with the booming jellyfish populations is that no monitoring exists to track the jellyfish populations. Data gained from the monitoring is needed for scientists to figure out how to address the issue. Luckily, a website and apps for iPhones and Androids have been created where the public is able to report where jellyfish are blooming. The scientists will use this data to figure out where jellyfish are, how often the blooms are occurring, and for how long. Without the help of the public, this research would be too expensive. With more research occurring, scientists will be able to find and implement ways to curb the jellyfish explosion. If you see jellyfish, report it!

Photo Cred: cbc.ca

As always: comments, questions, concerns or even random thoughts? I would love if you shared them with me so please comment below!

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An Oppor-TUNA-ty To Get Involved

Tuna fish are amazing. They are huge (up to 1500 pounds huge!), extremely fast swimmers (up to 70 mph fast!), they have an impressive amount of stamina (annual travelling of 4000+ miles!), and they are worth A LOT of money (one bluefin Tuna sold for $1.76 million dollars in 2013). Unfortunately, like many fish in the sea, Tuna have been overexploited using environmentally degrading practices.

Besides unsustainable practices such as sport fishing, Tuna are fished by ranching, and corraling. Now both of these practices are bad in their own ways.

1. Ranching is when entire schools of Tuna are caught in nets, and then towed to nearby the shore. Here, the Tuna are raised for a few months and then harvest and exported. Ranching itself does not count towards legal catch quotas, and as a result, does not fall under aquatic regulations and remains unregulated. In addition to a lack of regulations, this form of Tuna fishing negatively affects the age structures of wild populations. Juvenile Tuna are removed from the wild; juvenile Tuna being the type of Tuna in charge of replenishing wild populations.

2. Tuna are found swimming below dolphins in the ocean. As a result, corraling the dolphons is the method used to catch Tuna, The dolphins are corraled into a small area, and then a net is dropped around the dolphins, simultaneously catching the Tuna below. All species caught in this area (mainly dolphins) are then hauled on board the ship.  Consequently, all dolphins caught while trying to catch Tuna are dead before they can be freed.

The problem with Tuna is that they are valuable, yet undeniably finite. There is a large demand for Tuna, and a large profit to be reaped from selling Tuna. The question is whether or not the world is able to reach an agreement that preserves wild tuna stocks.

This post is not about finding a better way to catch Tuna. I am be no means an expert fisherman with the ingenuity to create a revolutionary technique or net that only catches exactly what you are looking for. That in itself is its own problem. I am, however, calling for you to get educated on the issue, and to get involved in pushing for more regulations. There still only exists a few regulations for fishing Tuna, and many areas around the ocean have no catch limits. Tuna populations would also benefit from restrictions on catching juvenile Tuna, but this would require countries to take a hit economically speaking in the short term.

Photo Cred: http://learn.uvm.edu/foodsystemsblog/2013/09/19/species-on-the-edge-of-a-knife-can-bluefin-tuna-survive-the-sushi-craze/

As always: comments, questions, concerns or even random thoughts? I would love if you shared them with me so please comment below!