During recent years, massive jellyfish congregations have appeared along the Northeast U.S. coast, in the Gulf of Mexico, in the Mediterranean, in the Black and Caspian Seas, and in South-East Asian coastal waters.

Dense jellyfish aggregations can be a natural feature of healthy ocean ecosystems, says Dr Anthony Richardson of the University of Queensland, but a clear picture is now emerging of more severe and frequent jellyfish outbreaks worldwide.”

jellyfish Get ready to swim with the jellyfish

A new study by Richardson and his colleagues at the University of Miami, Swansea University and the University of the Western Cape, presents convincing evidence that these massive jellyfish populations are supported by the release of excess nutrients from fertilisers and sewage, and that fish populations depleted by over-fishing no longer are capable of keeping them in check.

Fish normally keep jellyfish in check through competition and predation but overfishing can destroy that balance,” Dr Richardson says. “For example, off Namibia intense fishing has decimated sardine stocks and jellyfish have replaced them as the dominant species. Mounting evidence suggests that open-ocean ecosystems can flip from being dominated by fish, to being dominated by jellyfish. This would have lasting ecological, economic and social consequences.”

In addition to this, the distribution of many jellyfish species may extend as a response to global warming and an increased water temperature could also favour certain species by augmenting the availability of flagellates in surface waters.

The study, which was lead by CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship, has been published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution.

You can find more information about CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship here:

450 pound blobs filling up the Sea of Japan

sea of japan Get ready to swim with the jellyfishThe changing ecosystems affect a long row of different jellyfish species, but some of the most spectacular jellyfish congregations observed during recent years have involved the Nomura jellyfish (Nemopilema nomurai) living in the Sea of Japan. This colossal species, which can reach a size of 2 metres* across and weigh up to 220 kg**, is also present in the Yellow Sea as well as in the rest of the East China Sea.

After becoming a major problem in the region, the Nomura jellyfish population is now combated by a special committee formed by the Japanese government. Killing jellyfish or ensnaring them in nets will however only prompt these animals to release billions of sperm or eggs; aggrevating the problem rather than reducing it. Coastal communities in Japan have started to harvest jellyfish and sell them as a dried and salted snack, and students in Obama, Fukui have started making jellyfish cookies and jellyfish-based tofu.

* circa 6 feet 7 inches

** circa 450 pounds