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Posted Wed Aug 4 2010: from
What Lies Beneath The Sea: Census of Marine Life
The Census of Marine Life also points to the effect of so-called "alien species" being found in many of the world's marine ecosystems. The Mediterranean has the largest number of invasive species - most of them having migrated through the Suez Canal from the Red Sea. So far, more than 600 invasive species have been counted, almost 5 per cent of the total marine creatures in the Mediterranean. Those annoying jellyfish on the Spanish holiday beaches may be sending us a message, or at least a warning. In recent years there have been other jellyfish "invasions". In 2007, 100,000 fish at Northern Ireland's only salmon farm were killed by the same "mauve stingers" that are affecting the Spanish beaches. The swarming jellies covered 10 square miles of water. In 2005, and again last year, Japanese fishermen battled swarms of giant Nomura jellyfish, each measuring six feet across and weighing 200kg. Once seen infrequently, they now regularly swarm across the Yellow Sea, making it impossible for Japanese boats to deploy their nets. One fishing boat capsized after the jellyfish became entangled in its nets. There is evidence that the global jellyfish invasion is gathering pace. As Mediterranean turtles lose their nesting sites to beach developments, or die in fishing nets, and the vanishing population of other large predators such as bluefin tuna are fished out, their prey is doing what nature does best: filling a void. Smaller, more numerous species like the jellyfish are flourishing and plugging the gap left by animals higher up the food chain. According to the Spanish environment ministry: "Jellyfish blooms have been increasing in recent years, and one of the suggested causes is the decline in natural predators - as well as climate change and pollution from land-based sources."
[Read more stories about: jellyfish, invasive species, predator depletion, ocean warming, ecosystem interrelationships, overfishing]

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