Overfishing, pollution contribute to exponential rise
Oceana divers documenting the state of ecological communities in Cabrera Marine Park along the Mediterranean Coast encountered swarms of jellyfish, with numbers in the thousands, 30 miles south of the area.
On a seamount some 130 meters from the surface, Oceana’s unmanned submarine robot revealed especially high concentrations of these jellies that have wreaked havoc along the Mediterranean in years past. Oceana is working to have the area added to the national park.
High concentrations of jellyfish are not a local problem. The same factors that allow jellyfish to “overflourish” in many parts of the world are at play here: Essentially humans are creating a jellyfish wonderland by overfishing and polluting our oceans.
Warmer water temperatures due to climate change and an elevated presence of mineral nutrients thanks to urban and agricultural runoff create pristine conditions for jellyfish to multiply. By fishing out larger species, fewer predators are around to counterbalance the thriving jelly population.
The end result is an ecosystem out of whack, and only simultaneously addressing all sides of the problem will allow natural factors to take hold and control jellyfish populations.
Get Grist in your inbox