Chironex Fleckeri: Direct consequence of over fishing and portending things to come?…posted by Bill Arnett @ 5:17 PM Permalink …I'll bet hard money that if you turned to the nearest person, coworker, member of the board of a corporation, spouse or lover and said to them, "Gee, this Chironex Fleckeri situation could eventually kill off everything in our oceans and eliminate beach-going as formerly fun-filled vacation spot." You would receive a blank stare as people ran what you said through their brain processes and eventually came to the conclusion that the word 'chironex' must mean another oil company or Clorox has done something deleterious to our oceans.
If the person you turned to was Japanese and on vacation here they would nod knowingly and start talking about all the good fishing that had already been destroyed, the fish to be destroyed, fishing boats capsizing from the sheer weight of hundreds of tons of Chironex Fleckeri fouling their fishing nets, and the ever-smaller catch of edible fish. They would probably regale you with tales of Chironex Fleckeri over five feet wide weighing about a ton each that were enveloping more and more of the coast of Japan and have currently practically taken charge of almost 2/3 to 3/4 of the coastline causing nothing but grief.
And that now that they made a serious effort to kill them off they have genetically adapted so that the females now carry millions of eggs and the males are packing billions of little sperms.
By now anyone that has googled Chironex Fleckeri or those whose job it is to monitor the seas and what's happening in them know that I'm speaking of the Jellyfish invasion of Japan that is spreading out to what will soon be a global problem. Even those that are land-lovers will feel the sting of a reduction of another food source.
I'm not sure just how I feel about this yet because I believe it is a man-made problem, but at the same time I recognize how critical this situation has become and how dangerous the continued spread of these jellyfish could have an impact on our fishing fleets and our coastlines in the not-so-distant future.
It is my firmly held belief that Japan's overfishing, especially of plankton eating whales, is directly responsible for this invasion. These jellyfish feed upon the trillions of plankton floating in the Sea of Japan and flowing up from the China Sea. If the Japanese hadn't eliminated all those fish and whale plankton eaters there would obviously be many, many fewer plankton in the water for the jellyfish to eat (and here I think history would back me up as this never before happened in the Sea of Japan when it was full of whales and other fish living off the plentiful plankton). The over fishing itself is not the sole reason for the problem, but I do believe that, especially in the early stages, the over abundance of plankton allowed the jellyfish to invade.
Now the fishing net of boats are being destroyed as they are torn apart from the sheer weight of jellyfish that reach sizes over five feet across and a weight of one tons each. And, of course, they are joined by many of their jellyfish buddies (I understand they will have secret balloting next week on whether to form a union) like the box jellyfish, the most toxic creature on earth, it's poison killing a human being in seconds, not minutes or hours as with poisonous snakes.
For a better explanation of this horror movie-style 'THE INVASION OF THE POISONOUS JELLYFISH' see this article titled 'KILLER JELLYFISH POPULATION EXPLOSION' (a great title by the way for the second of a long successive line of sequels):
It's fascinating to me to see scientists trying to attribute this problem to acidification of the oceans and global warming, which do undoubtedly plat an important role in this, instead of looking for at simpler fixes like stopping the killing of whales and other sea-bound fish and creatures that eat plankton, the main food source of these jellyfish.
Mauve stinger jellyfish normally found in Mediterranean waters are expanding their habitats globally (see right column) and threatening a science fiction-like invasion of the world's oceans. While jellyfish species such as the Black Nettle inflict extremely painful but not lethal stings, the giant version can kill humans almost instantly (see middle column).
They have become the curse of beach holidays, permeating every ocean on the globe, thriving in the arctic and the tropics. In an ever-changing world where other species struggle to endure, jellyfish populations are on the rise.
The box jellyfish and another equally poisonous species, Irukandji, are on the move. Liberal scientists are warning that their populations are exploding and will pose a monumental problem unless they are stopped...maybe by Bruce Willis or George Bush (this should fit in nicely with his Book of Revelaton biblical fantasies).
But it may not be so easy. An attempt by the Japanese government to protect fish stocks involved commandeering fishing boats to drag razor-sharp wire through the mass of jellyfish. Yikes! When scientists captured an enemy big female box jellyfish, they found it swollen with millions of eggs - far more than they would normally carry. And the males were carrying billions of sperm. Apparently, threatening the jellyfish unleashes a breeding frenzy. Scientist now believe these Chironex Fleckeri are genetically programmed to ensure their survival by producing more offspring than normal when under attack. Have you seen Alien lately?
The box jellyfish is the perfect killing machine, so packed with venom that the briefest of touches can bring agonising death within 180 seconds. Should it come under sustained attack it responds by sending its compatriots into a super-breeding frenzy in which millions of replacements are created, like Mormons. Now picture a 10 square mile, 35 foot deep mass of these things - damn, it's either science fiction or Biblical.
The jellyfish have a formidable array of genetic equipment to help them survive. Here's what our embattled Humammal species is up against:
• Four brains that operate competitively in the search for food.
•A highly complex sensory capacity and the ability to distinguish colour.
•The ability to live in inhospitable waters at a depth of up to 10,900 metros.
•A total of 24 eyes with movable pupils giving each creature 360-degree surround vision.
•Box jellyfish have 6-8 ft long tentacles.
•Venom is released on contact from 4000,000,000 venomous fibres even after it is dead.
•Despite decades of study scientists have been unable to unravel the mysteries of its complex venom but it is known to contain 20 different proteins. So it's good for your hair.
As it turns out, it is likely that the rapidly accelerating acidification of the oceans will only increase its appeal to the jellyfish.…
Until the past decade, the mauve stinger has rarely been spotted so far north in British or Irish waters, and scientists cite this as evidence of global warming. The swarm went on to other attacks in Scotland. [BTW, killing 100 million salmon being raised in pens. Bill]
So, unless we all start to develop a taste for pickled jellyfish, between this and the poisoning of the water with crude oil (Hey, I just got a great idea! We'll send BP and Exxon over to start deep-water drilling at the southern tip of Japan! At least that way an oil spill would do some limited public good.)
That's enough jellyfish edification for today, but please read the very well written and somewhat disturbing article to which I have provided a link.
Ciao, Bella ámi.
PLEASE NOTE: All the language contained in the blue quotation box are the words of the writer with the sole exception of the one comment i made between [brackets], so if anyone finds any of the commentary there offensive it is a waste of time to bomb me with thousands of compliants about words used in the article and made by its author.