Are jellyfish taking over marine life? A heated debate over the increase in jellyfish reproduction is underway. As a result of human behavior and climate change (jellyfish prefer warm water), jellyfish are presumably invading the marine ecosystem. Although these creatures have been regarded for their translucent beauty, they are quite dangerous to human life.
While critics of the jellyfish epidemic believe there is not enough evidence to prove a rapid population increase, jellyfish continue to emerge in unusual places from the Arctic to the equator to the Antarctic, which strongly suggests that they are indeed in bloom. According to the the New York Review of Books, jellyfish can also reproduce in a wide variety of ways: "Hermaphroditism. Cloning. External fertilization. Self fertilization. Courtship and copulation. Fission. Fusion. Cannibalism." To add to their versatile reproductive capabilities, over-fishing eliminates many of jellyfish's predators like tuna and sea turtles, which allows these gelatinous creatures free reign.
The rising tide of jellyfish is affecting the fishing industry, tourism, and even the energy sector. Scientists investigating beaches in Mumbai released a final report of a survey carried out by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), showing that jellyfish are very resilient to climate change and reproduce faster in warmer waters.
Congress is aware of the rise of these stinging creatures. In November 1966, Congress passed the Jellyfish Control Act, which authorized the secretary of commerce to "conduct studies, research, and investigations to determine the abundance and distribution of jellyfish and other pests and their effects on fish, shellfish, and water-based recreation." Currently, many experts in the field are finding it difficult to gather funding in this area.
There are hundreds of species of jellyfish with most being carnivorous. They are powerful, fierce creatures that continue to multiply and can weigh as much as 450 pounds. These steadfast animals aren't going anywhere, and it's up to us to manage the ecosystem to ensure that we have safe beaches and seafood for generations to come.