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Biological Hazard – (Gelatinous invasion) Jellyfish Bloom: South Padre Island, Texas


Biological Hazard  –  Jellyfish Bloom

North America  – USA | State of Texas,  South Padre Island Coastal Areas
Location:  26°07’35.9″N 97°08’06.6″W
Bio-hazard Level: 0/4 —
Deaths:  unknown
Injured:  457
Affected: Gulf of Mexico, South Padre Island Coastal Waters

Biological Hazard in USA on Tuesday, 26 May, 2015 at 02:46 (02:46 AM) UTC.

Swimmers have reported about 475 jellyfish stings Saturday and Sunday on South Padre Island. The Cameron County Beach Patrol treated about 475 jellyfish stings during the past two days, said patrol Chief Michael Johnson – up from just 200 last week. Beach Patrol put up blue and purple flags to warn swimmers about the jellyfish. “Jellyfish stings vary greatly in severity. Most often they result in immediate pain and red, irritated marks on the skin,” according to the Mayo Clinic. “Some jellyfish stings may cause more whole-body (systemic) illness. And in rare cases jellyfish stings are life-threatening.” The Mayo Clinic recommends treating jellyfish stings by rinsing the area with salt water, applying vinegar or baking soda paste and taking a pain reliever.


See also: Jellyfish stings

Jellyfish Blooms (Wikipedia)

Jellyfish bloom formation is a complex process that depends on ocean currents, nutrients, sunshine, temperature, season, prey availability, reduced predation and oxygen concentrations. Ocean currents tend to congregate jellyfish into large swarms or “blooms”, consisting of hundreds or thousands of individuals. Blooms can also result from unusually high populations in some years. A recent study tracking swimming jellyfish revealed that these polyps can detect marine currents and swim against the current to congregate in blooms.[65] Jellyfish are better able to survive in nutrient-rich, oxygen-poor water than competitors, and thus can feast on plankton without competition. Jellyfish may also benefit from saltier waters, as saltier waters contain more iodine, which is necessary for polyps to turn into jellyfish. Rising sea temperatures caused by climate change may also contribute to jellyfish blooms, because many species of jellyfish are relatively better able to survive in warmer waters.[66]

Scientists have little historic data about jellyfish populations.[16]

One hypothesis is that the global increase in jellyfish bloom frequency may stem from human impact. In some locations jellyfish may be filling ecological niches formerly occupied by now overfished creatures, but this hypothesis lacks supporting data.[16] Youngbluth states that “jellyfish feed on the same kinds of prey as adult and young fish, so if fish are removed from the equation, jellyfish are likely to move in.”[67]

Some jellyfish populations that have shown clear increases in the past few decades are invasive species, newly arrived from other habitats: examples include the Black Sea, Caspian Sea, Baltic Sea, central and eastern Mediterranean, Hawaii, and tropical and subtropical parts of the West Atlantic (including the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Brazil).[68][69] Invasive populations can expand rapidly because they often face no predators in the new habitat.

Increased nutrients, ascribed to agricultural runoff, have been cited as contributing to jellyfish proliferation. Graham states, “ecosystems in which there are high levels of nutrients … provide nourishment for the small organisms on which jellyfish feed. In waters where there is eutrophication, low oxygen levels often result, favoring jellyfish as they thrive in less oxygen-rich water than fish can tolerate. The fact that jellyfish are increasing is a symptom of something happening in the ecosystem.”[67]

Informational reference: Jellyfish Blooms: Causes, Consequences and Recent Advances [PDF]

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