Sunday, June 29, 2008

Overexploited Oceans? Jellyfish are our Reward

In more bad news about our environment, the warming of the oceans combined with overfishing has allowed jellyfish to drive out more ecologically sound and, from a human perspective, more pleasant marine life:

The dramatic proliferation of jellyfish in oceans around the world, driven by overfishing and climate change, is a sure sign of ecosystems out of kilter, warn experts.

"Jellyfish are an excellent bellwether for the environment," explains Jacqueline Goy, of the Oceanographic Institute of Paris. "The more jellyfish, the stronger the signal that something has changed."

Brainless creatures composed almost entirely of water, the primitive animals have quietly filled a vacuum created by the voracious human appetite for fish.

Dislodging them will be difficult, marine biologists say.

"Jellyfish have come to occupy the place of many other species," notes Ricardo Aguilar, research director for Oceana, a international conservation organisation.

Nowhere is the sting of these poorly understood invertebrates felt more sharply than the Mediterranean basin, where their exploding numbers have devastated native marine species and threaten seaside tourism.

The over-exploitation of ocean resources by man has helped create a near-perfect environment in which these most primitive of ocean creatures can multiply unchecked, scientists say.

We never can seem to learn that nature abhors a vacuum, and that we simply cannot destroy something occupying a niche without something else moving into that niche. And in many cases, what moves in, like the jellyfish, is not exactly optimal from our POV.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I found it disappointing that the article didn't quantify how much blame should be pinned on overfishing and how much on global warming.