August 28, 2012

Jellyfish: Food, Pets, Glut & Threats



When I posted Jellyfish Sting Wallis Sands Beach Visitors on August 2, 2010, I didn’t expect any great amount of interest in it, at least, not much more than any other post.

I’d written the piece for two reasons. First, I was intrigued that a dead jellyfish could sting a hundred persons. Second, the event happened on the beach where I played as a child, Wallis Sands in Rye, New Hampshire.

Interestingly, this post, visited frequently, is fast becoming the most visited item on CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS.

Why? I turned to my trusty, rusty, old computer to surf the Internet, seeking an answer.


One evening my husband Monte and I were eating at a local Chinese restaurant. A family-style dinner party was happening in a side room. One of their dishes was jellyfish.


Yes, jellyfish—they find their way to the dinner table of many Chinese and other Asians…(they have) been eaten by ethnic Chinese for centuries, in China and elsewhere.1.

One Malaysian calls jellyfish her happy meal. Another woman relates that jellyfish is a part of the first dish of a ten-course Chinese dinner on happy occasions—Chinese New Year, weddings, etc.1

Exotic food enthusiast Eddie Lin says in his book Extreme Cuisine that jellyfish could be the “food solution” in a world of environmental concerns such as over-fishing and global warming. Also, because jellyfish is 80 per cent collagen, it is good for treating arthritis, bronchitis and lowering blood pressure, he claims.1

Okay, okay. Jelllyfish are a food source, and may be a partial answer to food shortages. However, I don’t, cannot, believe that jellyfish as a food has caused such an interest in my post.


It’s been a couple of years since our family pet, Honey, died. Since then we haven’t chosen to take on another pet. We want to be free to travel without the hastle of planning pet care.

Surfing the Internet produced a surprise: trendy Tokyo residents have taken on jellyfish as pets. Is this an alternative?

Water is serene and calming, so being around water naturally de-stresses you…(and) it seems the Japanese really find Jellyfish very relaxing. Enoshima Aquarium marine biologists say their studies prove that observing the slow movements of jellyfish produces a compound in human saliva associated with human relaxation.2

Perhaps they need little care: They don’t slobber or bark. They don’t leave claw marks on the sofa. And _ best of all _ they exude calm.4

Calm. Their movement is entrancing, relaxing. The most noticeable behavior of jellyfish is rhythmic pulsing of the swimming bell, which moves them through the water.3 

Regardless, you won’t find me desiring a jellyfish for a pet. I cannot imagine what it would be like cuddling up to the slippery, slimy, jelly-like substance that makes up a jellyfish.


Chinese fishermen venturing out to sea, in the wake of devastating Typhoon Morakot (2009) say they encountered an unprecedented number of giant jellyfish off the coast of Zhejiang province… thousands of them, like huge mushrooms sprouting on the surface of the water. The biggest was about 7 feet in diameter…

Theories for why the population of the invertebrates has spiked this year range from agricultural runoff in East China to overfishing, which reduced the populations of the young jellyfish’s natural predators. 5

That there is a population glut was reiterated in June 2011. April showers bring May flowers, but April pollution brings May jellyfish “blooms.”

The sudden, seasonal appearance of thousands of the creatures occurs in waters warmed by climate change and in areas where overfishing has removed the food competition for invasive jellies. 6


While a child enjoying Wallis Sands Beach I observed a trick some young boys played on beach visitors. They would dig holes in the sand, fill them with jellyfish, and cover them up. They thought it was hilarious when someone stepped into one of their holes.

However, I don’t recall any beaches being closed due to the threat of jellyfish.

Recently I’ve read about numerous beach closings due to jellyfish:

August 2012: Oreti Beach was closed yesterday and people told to get out of the ocean as a swarm of bluebottle jellyfish hit the shore… In New Zealand it is known as the bluebottle, elsewhere it is known as the Portuguese Man-o’-War.9

January 2012: MACKAY’S Harbour Beach was closed this morning after a box jellyfish was found during the morning’s net drag at about 10am

November 24, 2008:  Some 2,300 jellyfish were estimated at Waikiki beaches on Saturday and another 1,000 at Ala Moana shores, according to local reports. More than 20 stings have been reported, and ambulances responded to two incidents.

All around the world, jellyfish are behaving badly—reproducing in astonishing numbers and congregating where they’ve supposedly never been seen before. Jellyfish have halted seafloor diamond mining off the coast of Namibia by gumming up sediment-removal systems. Jellies scarf so much food in the Caspian Sea they’re contributing to the commercial extinction of beluga sturgeon—the source of fine caviar. In 2007, mauve stinger jellyfish stung and asphyxiated more than 100,000 farmed salmon off the coast of Ireland as aquaculturists on a boat watched in horror. The jelly swarm reportedly was 35 feet deep and covered ten square miles.

Nightmarish accounts of “Jellyfish Gone Wild,” as a 2008 National Science Foundation report called the phenomenon, stretch from the fjords of Norway to the resorts of Thailand. By clogging cooling equipment, jellies have shut down nuclear power plants in several countries; they partially disabled the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan four years ago. In 2005, jellies struck the Philippines again, this time incapacitating 127 police officers who had waded chest-deep in seawater during a counterterrorism exercise, apparently oblivious to the more imminent threat. (Dozens were hospitalized.) This past fall, a ten-ton fishing trawler off the coast of Japan capsized and sank while hauling in a netful of 450-pound Nomura’s jellies.10 


…recent media reports have created a perception that the world’s oceans are experiencing increases in jellyfish due to human activities such as global warming and overharvesting of fish. Now, a new global and collaborative study questions claims that jellyfish are increasing worldwide and suggests claims are not supported with any hard evidence or scientific analyses to date.11


All my Internet surfing hasn’t answered my question on the popularity of the post Jellyfish Sting Wallis Sands Beach Visitors. If you can enlighten me do so in the comment box below.



Jellyfish Sting Wallis Sands Beach Visitors:

Honey went home—She’s romping in animal heaven:

The Humming Bird Said: I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up:







5  Tribune-Review,  8-21-09







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