What a coincidence…

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Have you read the novel “The Swarm” written by Frank Schätzing? Its dust jacket contains this description: “Whales begin sinking ships. Toxic, eyeless crabs poison Long Island’s water supply. The North Sea shelf collapses, killing thousands in Europe. Around the world, countries are beginning to feel the effects of the ocean’s revenge as the seas and their inhabitants begin a violent revolution against mankind…

I’ve read this book and I like it very much though I have to admit that many described scenes and possible events depicted in the story were not pleasant to imagine. Their synonyms would be disaster and catastrophe. But the story definitely helped me to understand that there are so many organisms living on Earth – with us, beside us or far from us – that are important for the balance of nature, sometimes much more important than we realize.

In one chapter jellyfish began to cause serious problems to people and there are several pages describing those problems in detail. And just imagine – some time ago I opened a newspaper and found an article regarding jellyfish. Its title was

Why is sea full of jellyfish?
Predatory fishery and warming of sea has caused increasing jellyfish numbers.
Will the coastal invasion repeat next year?

Wow! What a coincidence… A shiver ran through me. The book is only a fiction but this is reality:

Some Spanish beaches have been closed, Italy and Africa are reported to be badly affected. Thousands of holidaymakers have been stung by jellyfish…

Scientists say that there are several reasons for this coastal invasion of jellyfish:

  • Jellyfish spend most of their life at the open sea because water is warmer and saltier there. But coastal waters were warmer than usual because of hot weather and saltier than usual because of low river flows.
  • Saltier coastal water discourages natural freshwater competitors of jellyfish.
  • The number of natural enemies of jellyfish has been diminishing because of overfishing.
  • Wastewater contains lots of phosphates and nitrates, substances present in washing powders as well as in preparations used in agriculture.
  • Enriched seawater is suitable for growth of plankton and algae that serve as food for some kinds of jellyfish.

But jellyfish are not only a threat for holidaymakers, they are voracious eaters of small fish and so their increasing numbers can cause the extermination of these fish.

You can say that you are not interested in jellyfish, that you don’t eat fish and don’t like swimming in sea. But we must not be deaf and blind to such “inconspicuous” connections that may decide our future.

“If we ravage Earth on and on and devastate the diversity of life forms, we will disturb integrity that we don’t understand and that we are not able to replace by anything. What we will pull apart, it will remain pulled apart forever. Who wants to decide which part of nature in that tangled web we can abandon?” Frank Schätzing, The Swarm

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