UNLESS…Severe Weather and Wildlife Well-being: Jellyfish Blooms

This post is in support of the new weekly WordPress blogging challenge Unless…Earth-Friendly Friday. This week’s topic is about severe weather and wildlife well-being.

Severe weather — from climate change that lead to ocean warming as well as excess carbon dioxide that increase ocean acidity levels — impact marine wildlife.

It may not be obvious to most of us because we can’t see what is happening, but severe weather changes are already affecting our marine wildlife.

Monterey Aquarium jellyfish exhibit

Jellyfish Exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium – photo Lolako.com

Warmer ocean waters contribute to jellyfish blooms.

The problem?

While jellyfish are fascinating and beautiful, and abundant jellyfish is a great food source for giant Pacific leatherback turtles that migrates from Indonesia to the Monterey Bay, sea turtle populations have declined at an alarming rate — so there are not as many turtles to keep the jellyfish population in check.

Moon Jellyfish at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Moon jellyfish exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium – photo Lolako.com

A combination of the decline in sea turtle population that feed on jellyfish and increasing jellyfish blooms creates an imbalance and a serious problem because  among the food jellyfish (like the Pacific sea nettle) eat as they drift in our oceans are small fish and fish eggs.

You don’t have to be a scientist to figure out that this overabundance of jellyfish eating fish eggs results in fewer fish for other ocean creatures to eat (not to mention less fish for human beings to eat).

Watching jellyfish exhibit at Monterey Aquarium

My grandson, Jun, mesmerized by the amazing Jellyfish exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

From an article on ThinkProgress.org on Why Aquariums are obsessed with Climate ChangeNote — Sarah-Mae Nelson, quoted for the interview is the Climate Change Interpretive Specialist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Jellyfish are another invasive intruder that can proliferate under warming ocean temperatures. These “weeds of the sea” have become more common in the Monterey Bay over the last decade, according to Nelson.

“We always had sea nettle jellyfish here in the late summer,” Nelson said. “But in the last eight to ten years we’ve been having huge blooms of them periodically — so much so that they’ve actually collapsed our water intake filters.”

Standing in a room lined floor to ceiling with jellyfish tanks, it was easy to imagine these boneless, brainless creatures expanding out from the aquarium and far into the ocean, decimating native species in their path.

Monterey Aquarium jellyfish exhibit 2

Pacific Sea nettle jellyfish exhibit at Monterey Bay Aquarium – photo Lolako.com

Beyond the Monterey Bay, jellyfish blooms are creating problems in other parts of the world….from a power outage at Sweden’s Oskarshamn nuclear power plant caused by water intake systems clogged by jellyfish, to fishing boats in Japan capsized as a result of fishing nets inundated with jellyfish (more info here).

Severe weather will continue to impact all of us, in our interconnected world.

To take part in this blogging challenge or to see photos and articles for the challenge click here.

This new blogging event is inspired by prophetic words written in 1971 by Dr. Seuss in his book – The Lorax …” UNLESS . . . someone like youcares a whole awful lot,nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

 

leatherback_scottbenson_noaa rd

Photo by Scott Benson via U.S. NOAA website

 

Related post on LolaKo.com:

Monterey Bay and our connection to endangered Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtles

 

 

Vellela jellie like creatures washed up on California beaches wb

 

Post about Vellela Vellelas washed up on Central Coast beaches last year (these are also called sea raftby-the-wind sailorpurple sail, and little sail).

4 thoughts on “UNLESS…Severe Weather and Wildlife Well-being: Jellyfish Blooms

  1. I suspect we are not at the end of learning about the imbalances that are occurring in ocean food webs. One of my favorite quotes from John Muir is abundantly true-
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

    On the Oregon Coast ( and California , Washington, up to Alaska) Sea Star wasting syndrome has all but devastated the Ochre Sea star as well as other sea star species. Sea stars are considered a keystone species because of its potential to dramatically affect tidal communities. On our beaches, it played a key role in keeping mussel populations in check. Without the sea stars, time will reveal the ecological effects of reduced sea star populations in this niche. In fact, I just read a report from University of California, Santa Cruz that indicates research is turning towards study of ecological consequences. http://www.eeb.ucsc.edu/pacificrockyintertidal/data-products/sea-star-wasting/

    The tie between severe weather change and jelly fish blooms is yet one more symptom of concern. I haven’t read any articles about this problem and appreciate your report and links . I hope posts like these will become increasingly well-read.Thank you, Lola Jane for researching and sharing these facts about the jelly-fish bloom. As if the California bloom isn’t bad enough… it’s troubling that this phenomena is occurring in other ocean areas as well.

  2. Jane, I did hear about the starfish diseases in the East Coast, but not looked into any details for the West. I really appreciate the link. The photos of the starfish on the article are disturbing, and the high number of starfish perishing is hard to understand.

    That is the thing about environmental concerns — it affects all of us on this planet, there are no borders, no demarcation lines, and the quote from John Muir perfectly illustrates this…thank you!

    By the way, for the challenge, I realize there is not much I can do about ocean wildlife, except to provide this information, but as we know, another reason for the decline in sea turtle population is that they ingest plastic bags accidentally, which they mistake for jellyfish, and obviously they can’t digest plastic bags. And so it directly ties into your previous Earth-Friendly Friday challenge…and keeping plastics out of the oceans, well….that is something we CAN do.

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Now that you are here, I would love to know what you think...comments are always appreciated.