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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Jellyfish Seek Italy’s Warming Seas. Can’t Beat ’Em? Eat ’Em.

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By JASON HOROWITZ  SEPTEMBER 17, 2017  read full NY Times article here

MARINA di GINOSA, Italy — As a small boat loaded with wet suits, lab equipment and empty coolers drifted into the warm turquoise sea, Stefano Piraino looked back at the sunbathers on the beach and explained why none of them set foot in the water. “They know the jellyfish are here,” said Dr. Piraino, a professor of zoology at the University of Salento. While tourists throughout Europe seek out Apulia, in Italy’s southeast, for its Baroque whitewashed cities and crystalline seas, swarms of jellyfish are also thronging to its waters.

Climate change is making the waters warmer for longer, allowing the creatures to breed gelatinous generation after gelatinous generation.

The jellyfish population explosion has blossomed for years, but got a special boost since 2015 with the broadening of the Suez Canal, which opened up an aquatic superhighway for invasive species to the Mediterranean.

The jellyfish invasion has now reached the point where there may be little do but find a way to live with huge numbers of them, say scientists like Mr. Piraino.

Jellyfish are still treated, literally, like trash. The European Commission’s research and innovation branch recently considered jellyfish blooms, along with aquatic debris and pollution, a form of litter that posed “huge and increasing problems in the oceans, seas and coasts.”…

…A leader of the Go Jelly project, she thinks that Italians, with their zeal for locally sourced regional ingredients, might just find a taste for jellyfish.  Others already have. The Japanese serve them sashimi style in strips with soy sauce, and the Chinese have eaten them for a millennium….



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