Just as we’re getting antsy to squish our bare feet into sunkissed, silky sand for some carefree lazing on the beach (anywhere! and soon!), the Economist had to go and dampen our summer pinings. Apparently, the painful sting of the euro’s exchange rate isn’t all you have to dread in the Mediterranean: An “unprecedented swarm of jellyfish” is heading to Europe.
We’ll let the Economist be the painful messenger:
The mauve stingers (also known as Pelagia noctiluca) have been breeding in the water throughout the winter, and are now ready for an assault on the beaches of Spain and the Mediterranean.
Masses of jellyfish are an increasingly common nuisance, not just in Spain, but all around the world. Spectacular blooms have been reported in Japan, Namibia, Alaska, Venezuela, Peru and Australia. And since 2000, the Gulf of Mexico has been suffering from an invasion of monster Australian spotted jellyfish (Phyllorhiza punctata), which are fouling fishing nets and upsetting the shrimpers.
Lucas Brotz, an oceanography graduate student at the University of British Columbia’s Fisheries Centre, says the increase in jellyfish populations means human encounters with the painful little blobs are bound to be more prevalent. Of course, this is hardly news. The Mediterranean has been on “jellyfish alert” for the past couple of years. Beaches on some of the region’s most popular resorts have even been forced to close. Most scientists blame higher sea temperatures brought on by global warming, as well as overfishing, for the jellyfish influx.
But jellyfish aren’t all bad. They're an important part of a diverse marine ecosystem. Plus, the most common Mediterranean jellyfish are at least 95 percent water and are not considered particularly dangerous or lethal, though allergic reactions are possible. If you’re stung, ideally you should wash your wound with vinegar and soak it in hot water, but in a pinch you can rinse it with salt water and cool it with an ice-free cool pack. If you're suffering from a potential allergic reaction or a particularly painful sting, hightail it to the nearest hospital. For more information check out the Divers Alert Network, the scuba diver's resource for rescue and first aid.
P.S. Am I the only one who hears "jellyfish" and immediately recalls the “Friends” episode with Monica, Joey, Chandler, a jellyfish sting, and an unpleasant home remedy?