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Tentacled Trouble in the Mediterranean

August 18, 2008

According to a recent article in the New York Times, the number of jellyfish at various beaches around the Mediterranean is greatly above average. The exact cause is not known, however it is likely a combination of overfishing (which cuts down on predators and competition for food), rising sea temperatures related to global warming, and pollution which has lowered the oxygen levels in many coastal waters.

According to Dr. Josep-María Gili,  who has studied jellyfish for over 20 years at the Institute of Marine Sciences of the Spanish National Research Council in Barcelona, “These jellyfish near shore are a message the sea is sending us saying, ‘Look how badly you are treating me,’ ”

At some levels, jellyfish are telling of the sea’s condition. The fact that so many more than normal are appearing is not a good sign. This is a perfect example of the far-reaching effects of environmental irresponsibility. Overfishing and global warming are throwing off the fragile balance of the sea’s ecosystem, resulting in unforeseen consequences such as this. The pollution which is being pumped into the sea not only makes it hazardous to humans and fish, but makes it unnaturally suitable for jellyfish. This has further negative consequences on not only the health of the ocean, but the economic heath of the countries who thrive on Mediterranean-based tourism.

Trends like these show us that we really need to think about issues from every angle when it comes to the environment.

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