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Millions of dead jellyfish washing up, massive increase, Around the world

Photo Illustration

Like a tourist on a cruise ship, the by-the-wind sailor jellyfish (Velella velella) spends its days drifting aimlessly through the open sea, gorging itself on an endless buffet of complementary morsels.

The jelly straddles the ocean’s surface with a rigid sail poking just above the water and an array of purple tentacles dangling just underneath. As the sail catches wind, the jelly floats from place to place, capturing tiny fish and plankton wherever it roams. Thriving Velella colonies can include millions of individuals, all just partying and chowing down together in the open water. Life is good.

Until, that is, the wind blows a colony of sailor jellies onto shore.

Every year, on beaches around the world, colonies of sailor jellies become stranded by the thousands. There, they dry up and die, becoming a “crunchy carpet” of dehydrated corpses covering the sand, Julia Parrish, a University of Washington professor and co-author of a new study on mass Velella strandings, said in a statement.

Sailor jelly strandings are common when seasonal winds change course, but some — like a 2006 event on the west coast of New Zealand — are on another level entirely, with the jellyfish corpses numbering not in the thousands, but in the millions. Why? What force of nature makes some Velella strandings so much larger than others?

Parrish and her colleagues wanted to find out. So, in their new study (published March 18 in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series) they delved into 20 years of Velella observations reported along the west coast of the United States.

The observations came from a program called the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, also known as COASST, which trains citizen scientists to search their local beaches for marine birds that have washed ashore, plus any other unusual animal sightings. COASST’s network covers hundreds of beaches stretching from northern California to the Arctic Circle, according to the group’s website — and, of course, some members have had run-ins with Velella.

The researchers found nearly 500 reports of Velella strandings in the COASST database, sighted on nearly 300 beaches. According to these reports, the most massive die-offs by far occurred during spring months from 2015 to 2019. During those years, dead jellyfish littered more than 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) of continuous coastline, the researchers found.

Those jellyfish die-offs also coincided with a massive marine heat wave known as “the blob.” Beginning in 2013, surface waters off the Pacific coast began heating up to levels never recorded before, Live Science previously reported. The intense warming continued through 2016, tampering with every level of the marine food chain and resulting in mass die-offs of seabirds, baleen whales, sea lions and other creatures. According to the new study, it’s likely that the blob drove the mass die-offs of by-the-wind sailor jellyfish reported during those years.

The catch is, those warming ocean waters may have actually been good for the jellies, the researchers said. As the blob increased ocean surface temperatures, certain fish (such as northern anchovies) benefited from longer spawning seasons, providing more food for Velella jellies to gobble up earlier in the year. This may have caused jellyfish populations to spike before seasonal wind changes blew the jellies ashore in the spring.

In other words, the blob may have helped Velella jellies thrive off the Pacific coast, leading to much larger stranding events those years. The sailor jellies could therefore become climate change “winners” as global warming is predicted to increase the frequency of marine heat waves, the researchers wrote. But their success will come at the expense of other, less fortunate creatures — and a whole mess of jellyfish carcasses on our coasts.

“A changing climate creates new winners and losers in every ecosystem,” Parrish said in the statement. “What’s scary is that we’re actually documenting that change.”

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Thousands of dead jellyfish wash up on beach in the sea of Azov, Russia #Jellyfish #Azov #Russia

Dead jellyfish are thrown onto the beach after polluting the water

Photo Credit @krasnodar Kray (Newsflash)

A disgusting video shows thousands of dead and rotting jellyfish washed-up on a sandy beach in Russia.

Holidaymakers had to clear hundreds of jellyfish in order to try and clean the water when it turned an unappealing shade of brown from their decaying bodies.

The footage was recorded at the Sea of Azov from the coastal resort town of Yeysk yesterday.

In the video, dead jellyfish smother the beach while holidaymakers bring more of the dead jellies from the water, where many others can be seen floating.

Two men clean the water of dead animals with their bare hands, while others prefer to use whatever they can find to throw the jellyfish onto the shore.

Krasnodar Krai social media group, who uploaded the video on Instagram, said the water turned brown because of the decaying bodies of the jellyfish.

It is generally not safe to handle jellyfish, even when they are dead, because many species have tentacles that deliver a painful sting when they come into contact with skin.

A voice in the background says: “It is like Jellyfish Island.”

Despite reports of thousands of dead jellyfish washing up on the Crimean Peninsula a few months ago, these specimens were very much alive at the time.

According to the deputy director of the Research Institute of Fisheries and Marine Ecology, Konstantin Demyanenko, the increase in the jellyfish population is related to the water becoming saltier.

He said: “In the Sea of Azov, this figure is now 14 ppm (parts per million), which is one-and-a-half times higher than in the 1990s.

“And also, climate change causes an effect.”

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Hundreds of dead #jellyfish wash up on a beach in #Pembrey, #Wales

The jellyfish were everywhere on Pembrey Beach (Image: Kevin Taylor)

As far as the eye can see, jellyfish can be spotted stretching along this Welsh beach.

Kevin Taylor took his children, aged nine and 10, down to Pembrey Beach yesterday (Wednesday, May 22) to have a day out and make the most of the lovely weather.

But when they arrived they witnessed something quite unusual.

All along the beach were hundreds of washed up jellyfish of all different shapes and sizes, something they were all fascinated by.

It also caught the attention of dog walkers and many others who visited the beach that day.

“I went down with the kids yesterday afternoon, it was a nice afternoon so we thought we’d go to the beach,” the 51-year-old of Llanelli said.

“We were walking along and we came across a huge amount of jellyfish of all shapes and sizes, some quite large and others quite small and they had this lovely blue colour. It was great to see.

“They were all in this massive line about four to five foot wide.”

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Countless jellyfish wash up on a beach in San Francisco, USA

A countless amount of jellyfish washed ashore at Pacifica State Beach in San Francisco over the weekend, worrying some locals who were enjoying the long Memorial Day weekend on the sand.
“It freaks you out at first. I mean, your hands are hitting them when you’re paddling in the water. And you think, ‘oh man this is going to sting,’ but then you realize they don’t,” said one surfer Josh Badura.
The small, translucent, gelatinous blobs are harmless Moon Jellyfish that wash up to the beach with the current, according to Malilou Seiff of the Marine Science Institute.
“Jellyfish are not swimmers. They float with the current. So when you get onshore currents, and onshore winds, they just float ashore,” Seiff explained.
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Millions of jellyfish wash up around the coast of Malta

Large numbers of jellyfish were spotted today in seashores to the East of Malta, including Marsaskala, Xgħajra, Imsida and Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq.
Photos show a great amount of jellyfish, of the Pelagia Noctiluca species, at San Tumas bay in Marsaskala. Jellyfish was even spotted on the quay.
Maritime biologist, Prof. Alan Deidun, said that there are millions of jellyfish in seashores to the East of Malta and described the scene as a violet carpet.
He stated that this jellyfish most probably arrived earlier than usual and in larger quantities due to the drought and hot period we had in January.
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Tens of thousands of jellyfish wash up on beaches in Southern New Zealand

Thousands of jellyfish-like creatures have washed up on New Zealand’s South Island CREDIT: GREYMOUTH STAR
Tens of thousands of jellyfish-like creatures have washed up on beaches on New Zealand’s South Island.
The velella velella, which are related to jellyfish and also known as by-the-wind-sailors, blanketed patches of beaches on the island’s west coast, the Greymouth Star reports.
They covered an area of 18 x 4 metres on one beach and soon began rotting in the sunshine, exuding a strong smell.
Conservation officials say it is common for the jelly creatures to wash up in the spring as water temperatures rise, but added they were surprised by the vast number.
“It’s very unusual that you have so many thousands of them washed up in one place,” the country’s Department of Conservation (DOC) said.
“It’s a common species around the west coast and around NZ and they do wash up, usually in tens or hundreds.”
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‘Mega-swarm’ of jellyfish wash up, ‘never seen this big before’, on four beaches in Wales

Jellyfish in New Quay, Ceredigion
Thousands of jellyfish have washed up on beaches in Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion in what a conservationist has described as a “mega swarm”.
More than 300 barrel jellyfish washed up in New Quay, Ceredigion.
And in Pembrokeshire there have been sightings in Tenby, Saundersfoot and Newport.
Sarah Perry from Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre said: “This is definitely a mega swarm. I have never seen them this big before.”
She said the creatures do wash up each year but added that this was “unusual because of the number on our shores and the size of them”.
Ms Perry said she believed the recent warm weather had sparked the boom in jellyfish, which can grow up to 88cm (35in) in diameter.
Numbers have grown in recent years because of mild winters allowing plankton, their main food source, to thrive.
Holidaymaker Wilson Dyer, from Suffolk, said: “I’ve been holidaying here for 40 years and I’ve never seen this before.
“They’re all the way up the Cardigan Bay coast. It’s intriguing, it looks like they all keeled over at the same time.”
Conservationist Ms Perry said the abundance of washed up jellyfish could attract feeding leatherback turtles which would be an “amazing sight”.
She encouraged the public not to move or touch the jellyfish.
“While they’re relatively harmless they can, if touched, leave you with a rash similar to what you may get after touching a stingy nettle,” she said.
Courtesy of BBC News

Countless jellyfish-like creatures wash ashore in Oregon, USA

Photo by Tiffany Boothe / Seaside Aquarium
A stroll along the Oregon coast just got a lot more… blue.
Countless jelly-like sea creatures called by-the-wind sailors have once again washed ashore in Oregon, creating what some call a “blue tide” at beaches along the coastline. 
Formally known as Velella velella, the tiny gelatinous creatures have a tendency to get stranded in innumerable heaps along the coast, driven ashore by strong summer and spring winds. As the name suggests, by-the-wind sailors utilize clear, triangular sails to travel across the surface of the ocean, drifting where the breeze takes them.
Originally classified as a jelly, researchers have since recognized the creature as a unique species of hydrozoan, a class of predatory salt water animals. Each apparent individual is actually a complex colony of all-male or all-female polyps, connected by a canal system that transports food and waste. As by-the-wind sailors drift across the surface of the ocean they feed on plankton, stinging them with barb-tipped cells inside their tentacles.
The venom poses no threat to humans, but the folks at the Oregon Coast Aquarium caution against any physical interaction just in case.
The “blue tide” is indeed a spectacular blue or purple color when the creatures first wash ashore, but as they die they turn a flakey and lifeless white – with an accompanying stench to boot. 
The first waves have been washing ashore for several weeks, but expect more blue tides this spring on the Oregon coast.
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Thousands of dead jellyfish, ‘never seen this many before’, wash ashore in Queensland, Australia

Bubble wrap beach: Thousands of blue jellyfish invade Australian shore (PHOTOS)
© Charlotte Lawson / Facebook
Living up to its name, Deception Bay in Queensland, Australia left onlookers deceived by what lay in front of them. What looked like bubble wrap was, in fact, numerous blue jellyfish spread across the beach.
The beach, near Brisbane’s north side, received its wobbly visitors on Sunday, and many of the blue stingers have been hanging around ever since.
“They’re already starting to smell,” said Charlotte Lawson, who first photographed the jellyfish carpet.
At first, Lawson thought the jellyfish was just the tide having come in. “When we got closer we realized it was jellyfish,” she said. “It happens every year but there’s never been this many, this year it’s been heaps.”
The jellyfish are blue blubber jellyfish and are mildly venomous.
“It’s like wallpaper,” Marine biologist Lisa-Ann Gershwin told ABC News. “They are just cheek by jowl. They are packed so tightly. It’s a sea of blue.”
Gershwin said she had never seen so many jellyfish in her 25 years of research, and suggested the jellyfish cluster could have been caused by warmer waters, tide conditions, a lack of predators and other factors.
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Thousands of dead jellyfish found washed ashore, ‘a rare phenomenon’ along Odisha coast in India

Pic Courtesy: Jonathan Smith (For representation purpose only)
Pic Courtesy: Jonathan Smith (For representation purpose)
Carcasses of thousands of blue button jellyfish were found along Konark-Astaranga coastline in Odisha’s Puri district since last two-three days raising concerns among the environmentalists and wildlife experts.
While the blue button jellyfish are found in tropical and sub-tropical waters of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans, the sight of dead hydroids along the Bay of Bengal is rare as they survive in warm waters and seldom found here.
Experts opine that the aquatic species might be dying due to drastic climate change.
“It is a rare phenomenon here as we don’t find blue button jellyfish along Odisha coast. The blue buttons might be dying due to climate change or marine water pollution,” an environmentalist expressed.
We haven’t seen blue button jellyfish in such large numbers along the beaches. For the first time, we are seeing such thing. The carcasses have dotted the coasts since last two-three days. It is very sad that they are dying due to some unknown reasons. We appeal the government to send experts for further research to find out the reason behind this, a local resident said.
The blue buttons (Porpita porpita) are actually not jellyfish. However, they superficially resemble the gelatinous aquatic animal. They feed on copepods and crustacean larvae and their sting causes mild irritation to human skin.
It may be recalled that dead Olive Ridley turtles were found along the Odisha coasts few months ago. Besides, the carcass of a gigantic whale was also found along the Mangala river mouth in Puri district in February this year.
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