Over the weekend, jellyfish swarmed the beaches around Queensland, Australia. Jellyfish are very sensitive to shifts in their environment and the changes caused by climate change may be the direct reason.
Over the weekend, thousands of jellyfish stings were reported at Queensland beach. The jellyfish stings in question were mostly from the bluebottle colonies, which are a common sight in Queensland. However, what is not common, is the number of bluebottle colonies that arrived over the weekend.
How Did So Many Jellyfish Arrive
It is very normal to see jellyfish at beaches, but not at this magnitude. Jellyfish are quite sensitive when it comes to changes in their habitat and the most likely reason that such a large amount ended up at the beach is the unusually strong winds blowing toward Queensland.
The result was quite shocking, to say the least, with thousands of jellyfish stings. Thankfully, the majority of them were not life-threatening, but it did result in the beaches being shut down in Australia until the jellyfish left the area.
Jellyfish Are Thriving Due to Global Warming
Jellyfish are a unique sea creature that directly benefits from global warming. While warming sea temperatures endanger sea creature habitats around the world, Jellyfish benefit from it. Natural predators of jellyfish, like sea turtles, tuna, and sharks are suffering greatly from warming seas.
This leaves jellyfish unchallenged to continually repopulate, without any natural predators to thin their numbers. Around the world, jellyfish populations have increased substantially and show no inclination of slowing down. This can prove disastrous for beaches around the globe.
However, there is a lack of long-term data required to connect jellyfish population increase to climate change.
Recent Heatwaves May Have Been Related to the Jellyfish Bloom
With a lack of long-term data to back up claims, it cannot be proved that the recent heatwaves in the area helped jellyfish bloom. However, just because it cannot be proved yet, it does not mean it isn’t the case. All of the available data suggests that jellyfish are benefiting from the warming of the oceans.
While it may just be a coincidence that this happened after an intense heatwave that reached temperatures of 46C (114.8°F), it seems reasonable to suggest they are connected, but not provable at the moment. And with intense heatwaves becoming more common due to global warming, there will be plenty of data to use in the future.
Are There Any Preventative Measures That Can Be Taken
Sadly, not much can actually be done. Jellyfish follow the winds and current and those usually lead them to shorelines and beaches. However, by properly addressing global warming concerns around the world, we can protect their natural predators to keep them in check.
However, if you are looking for a more immediate way to keep beaches safe, there are offshore barriers that can prevent large numbers from migrating to beaches. As you can imagine this is uncommon as most beaches wait for the waters to clear naturally.