“Jellification” - a nightmarish reality

An ocean of jellyfish. A scenario that is very discussed for the time being. But why exactly ? In this editorial we will take a deeper plunge into the jelly-soup and look at some different aspects to discover what the future may withhold.

At first - what is the “jellification-phenomena” ?

Jellyfish, appearing in vast numbers, also called Jellyfish Blooms, has been seen more rapidly around the world for the last decade or so. There are many reasons for this, some of which we will take a closer look at later in this editorial, but to keep it short, we are perhaps looking at a future where the ocean will be having a thick surface layer of jellyfish - “the Jellification”.

Photo by Mélanie Croce

But why is this jellification taking place ?

As mentioned before, there are many reasons for the Jellification being on it´s way, and experts also quote that it is very difficult to determine exactly why jellyfish are growing vastly in numbers. But there are some factors and most likely scenarios that can be linked to the nature of a jellyfish.


Jellyfish are quite fascinating beings. Even though they all lack brains, jellyfish have been swimming in the oceans, long before dinosaurs walk the earth. With their almost see though bodies made up of about 95% water they are almost perfectly camouflaged from predators, and are also equipped with stingers or tentacles that enables them to prey on fx. zooplankton and small fish.

One of the main reasons for Jellyfish existing in the oceans for more than 650 million years is their highly competitive ability to adapt.

Photo by Aaron Ross

Their ability to adapt is properly also one of the main reasons for the jellyfish blooms we are witnessing.


With climate change, changing the oceans temperatures the jellyfish are shifting safezones.

Many ocean animals, are very sensible and, roughly, not that adaptive to temperatures changing fast. Jellyfish on the other hand, are brilliant adapters. Therefore climate change is perhaps one of the main reasons for the birth of the jellyfish apocalypse.

But the disappearance of jellyfish predators due to overfishing, properly also plays a major role to the jellification.

Once it was believed that only a few species such as sea turtles and sunfish preyed on jellyfish, but a recent study has reviled jellyfish to be a part of plenty ocean animals diets.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/28/science/jellyfish-predators-oceans.html

However, overfishing - removing the majority of the jellyfish´s natural predators most likely plays a part, since this leaves a safe heaven for jellyfish to thrive.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop

But does it matter ? More or less jellyfish - is there a problem ?

There are several dilemmas to Jellification, which is also one of the major reasons for jellyfish getting a lot of media attention.

If the future will contain this jellification or jellyfish apocalypse we may face some of these following effects - that are severe.

If the scenario of an ocean with a thick carpet of jellyfish floating in (approx) the first 2 meters from surface and downwards, the ocean floor will have trouble getting but a glimpse of sunlight.

Since plants in the ocean rely as much on light as the forests on land, this will cause death in the undersea forests.

The following effect by this is a lack of oxygen in the ocean. This does not effect jellyfish that much, since they have the ability to survive in very low-oxygenated areas, - but will however create severe problems for unmentionable numbers of inhabitants of the ocean - and also for humans.

The ocean provides us with more than 50% of the oxygen we breathe - this isolated fact is one of the many reasons why we are deeply dependent on the health of the oceans.

https://oceans.taraexpeditions.org/en/m/environment/ocean-climate/sylvia-earle-is-new-ambassador-of-the-oceans-call-for-climate/


Jellification is therefore a nightmarish case and can cause major problems if it becomes a reality.

Photo by Tiphaine

Since the cause of jellyfish blooms has not been precisely discovered yet, it is difficult to say exactly what we can do to prevent it from happening, - but!- if You want to read what is already discovered You can do for a sustainable future for the oceans, follow the link below.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/oceans/take-action/10-things-you-can-do-to-save-the-ocean/


By Blue Reporter, Naja Bertolt Jensen

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