Why climate change means more jellyfish stings for ocean swimmers


Jellyfish, unlike many other marine species, are climate change winners.

In a sign of the dire state of the world’s oceans, new research shows that as water temperatures rise, jellyfish will increasingly invade the Arctic Ocean and dominate the region.

Jellyfish stings have become increasingly common in recent years, and the situation is expected to get even worse for coastal swimmers, according to research from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Bremerhaven, Germany. There is.

The researchers used computer models to expose eight species of Arctic jellyfish to the kinds of increases in water temperatures expected as a result of climate change.

They found that, with one exception, all species analyzed have the potential to significantly expand their ranges toward the Arctic between 1950 and 2014 and between 2050 and 2099. .

The lion’s mane jellyfish, one of the largest stinging jellyfish, is part of a large population of jellyfish that has spread northward, according to a study published in the journal Limnology and Oceanography. “Habitat could almost triple,” says AWI marine biologist Charlotte Habermans.

Only one of the studied species (Sminthea arctica) recorded a decline (15%). This is because when it gets hot, it retreats to cooler depths.

Jellyfish are also likely to benefit from overfishing, with cnidarians (including jellyfish) often outcompeting rivals such as fish as climate change puts further stress on marine life, said lead author Dmitrii Pantiukin. He states:

In Svalbard, horseshoe jellyfish have already taken over entire fjords, Haferman stressed. “Many jellyfish feed on fish larvae and eggs, which slows or prevents the recovery of pressurized fish populations, but these fish populations are also typically tightly managed by humans. ”Pantiuhin said.

Scientists are already sounding the alarm about the impending “squeezing” of the global oceans.

Habermans said this is evidenced by the fact that people in the Mediterranean have been getting stung more frequently by jellyfish over the past 15 years. However, it is still unclear how the northward movement of cnidarians will affect Arctic fish stocks.

“There is a lot to suggest that important Arctic fish species like white cod will be under even more pressure because their larvae and eggs are often eaten by jellyfish,” Habermans said.

German researchers say the lion's mane jellyfish, one of the largest stinging jellyfish, is part of a large population of jellyfish that has spread northward. Thomas Müller/DPAGerman researchers say the lion's mane jellyfish, one of the largest stinging jellyfish, is part of a large population of jellyfish that has spread northward. Thomas Müller/DPA

German researchers say the lion’s mane jellyfish, one of the largest stinging jellyfish, is part of a large population of jellyfish that has spread northward. Thomas Müller/DPA



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