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Attack of the Jellyfish: Sea Creatures Shut Down ANOTHER Power Station Amid Claims Surge is Due to Climate Change

By Joe Romm on July 6, 2011 at 12:53 pm

"Attack of the Jellyfish: Sea Creatures Shut Down ANOTHER Power Station Amid Claims Surge is Due to Climate Change"

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Another power station was shut down by jellyfish today amid claims that climate change is causing a population surge among the species.

Swarm: Hundreds of jellyfish blocked the water-supply grills at the Hadera plant

Swarm: Hundreds of jellyfish blocked the water-supply grills at the Hadera plant

I could not resist the headline and lede above — especially when I saw it was from the UK’s Daily Mail, normally a hotbed [cold bed?] of climate denial.  This story, however, takes a much different turn:

A huge swarm clogged up the Orot Rabin plant in Hadera, Israel, a day after the Torness nuclear facility in Scotland was closed in a similar incident.

Hadera ran into trouble when jellyfish blocked its seawater supply, which it uses for cooling purposes, forcing officials to use diggers to remove them.

Nuisance: A digger drops jellyfish cleared from the power station in Hadera, Israel

A digger drops jellyfish cleared from the power station.

What’s truly fascinating about this is the link to climate change, specifically ocean acidification, which the infamous, anonymous “Daily Mail Reporter,” actually gets mostly right:

Scientists say the number of jellyfish are on the rise thanks to the increasing acidity of the world’s oceans driving away the blubbery creatures’ natural predators.

The warning came in a report into ocean acidification – an often overlooked side effect of burning fossil fuel.

Studies have shown that higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doesn’t just trigger climate change but can make the oceans more acidic.

Since the start of the industrial revolution, acidity levels of the oceans have gone up 30 per cent, marine biologists say.

Last year, a Nature Geoscience study found our oceans are acidifying 10 times faster today than 55 million years ago when a mass extinction of marine species occurred.  Also, last year the Geological Society reported that acidifying oceans spell marine biological meltdown “by end of century.”

But the fact is that some of the world’s top marine scientists reported last month that ocean acidification, global warming, and human activity have put the world’s oceans in ‘shocking’ decline with the ‘speeds of many negative changes … tracking the worst-case scenarios.’

What does this have to do with jellyfish?

The report, published in December 2010 by the UN Environment Programme, warns that the acidification of oceans makes it harder for coral reefs and shellfish to form skeletons – threatening larger creatures that depend on them for food.

The decline in creatures with shells could trigger an explosion in jellyfish populations.

The report, written by Dr Carol Turley of Plymouth University, said: ‘Ocean acidification has also been tentatively linked to increased jellyfish numbers and changes in fish abundance.’

Jellyfish are immune to the effects of acidification. As other species decline, jellyfish will move in to fill the ecological niche.

Populations have boomed in the Mediterranean in recent years. Some marine scientists say the changing chemistry of the sea is to blame.

The UNEP report, “Environmental Consequences of Ocean Acidification:  A Threat to Food Security,” is an excellent overview of the subject.  The above quote from it references a 2007 study, “Climate-related increases in jellyfish frequency suggest a more gelatinous future for the North Sea,” that points out acidification will “severely affect calcifying plankton and other skeleton-forming organisms, so would potentially favor noncalcifying organisms such as jellyfish.”  It concludes:

The evidence available from our study, however, suggests that projected climate change, including reducing ocean pH, may increase the frequency, and thus influence, of gelatinous predators in the North Sea over the next 100 yr.

In short, get used to less food security and more of this:

Slimy: Jellyfish cover the floor in a lot at the power station

Slimy: Jellyfish cover the floor in a lot at the power station

Clear out: Jellyfish fall from a filter into a container at the Israeli power station

Clear out: Jellyfish fall from a filter into a container at the Israeli power station

Yet more reasons to speed up the transition to renewable power sources.  Perhaps the jellyfish are trying to tell us something.

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Below are the earlier comments from the Facebook commenting system:

Richard Brenne

When we’ve all eaten our ten-thousandth consecutive meal of only peanut butter and jellyfish sandwiches will we pay attention then?

July 6 at 2:21pm

Lou Grinzo

Yes, we’ll pay attention, but the deniers among us will then line up and blame the climate scientists for not warning everyone in advance in a sufficiently compelling fashion. Go ahead — tell me I’m wrong. I double dog dare ya,

July 8 at 8:50pm

Dennis von Itter

It’s called eating conservativly(the PBJ’s). Get used to it, especialy if people keep voting for repubs.

July 9 at 6:42am

Ceal Smith

Or voting for the dems who renege on virtually EVERY promise they make for real change. We gonna have to make it from the ground up….

July 11 at 2:14am

Lou Grinzo

Yes, we’ll pay attention, but the deniers among us will then line up and blame the climate scientists for not warning everyone in advance in a sufficiently compelling fashion. Go ahead — tell me I’m wrong. I double dog dare ya,

July 8 at 8:50pm

Dennis von Itter

It’s called eating conservativly(the PBJ’s). Get used to it, especialy if people keep voting for repubs.

July 9 at 6:42am

Ceal Smith

Or voting for the dems who renege on virtually EVERY promise they make for real change. We gonna have to make it from the ground up….

July 11 at 2:14am

oflibertysons

We have spent five years in the Caribbean, snorkeling and diving in places like Bonaire, Curacao, the Aves islands of Venezuela and many other sites. Coral are very, very sick, dying or dead in many places.

Certain fish depend on the coral for their life. It is sad to see remaining fish clustering around these sick or dead coral, trying to live on. Soft coral in some places seem to do better. These are coral resembling small bushes. Mosses are growing on white sand bay bottoms, probably due to warmer water. In some places these mosses are solid.

Man has done a real job on this planet. You’ve got to feel what is coming, man fully deserves.

July 6 at 5:40pm

Ceal Smith

Coral reefs are the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet. Maybe man deserves it, but not the millions of organism that are going down with us….

July 11 at 2:17am

Grant Bussell

It ain’t the carbon tax that will wreck the economy, it’d the rise of slime!

July 10 at 10:27am

Ceal Smith

Please remember….use the word ‘NUCLEAR” (power plant) and nature always bats last.

July 8 at 9:00pm

Beth Quist

Aren’t jellyfish food for sea turtles? If there were a healthy population of turtles, the jellyfish would be in balance.

July 8 at 9:06pm

Ceal Smith

As the ocean gets more acidic (due to absorbing more C02) animals with shells (calcium carbonate) are disappearing, animals with no shells are increasing. But yes, lower sea turtle pops could contribute, but then they’ve been reduced for a while.

July 8 at 10:02pm

John P Milton

Yet another reason to shift into decentralized – rooftop & Parking lot cover – renewable energy ASAP.

July 10 at 5:13pm

Lesley Smith

We just need someone to come up with a nice form of jellyfish cuisine, to give our fish stocks a break. Chilli jellyfish salad is not the answer – tried it at our local YumCha and it tasted MAXIMUM yuck.

July 10 at 8:28am

Bruce Nilles

Jellyfish – 21st century canaries.

July 8 at 12:43pm

Thom Langley

Current corporate approach = Deny, delude, inveigle, obfuscate. but, whatever you do, don’t create technical jobs related to salvaging the environment, and finding innovative new ways to create power with that $2 trillion in cash that your sitting on (that’s just US corporations). Why isn’t this news shared more broadly? Because your US news-corp is a propaganda organ for corporations and the others are busy trying to look like “Dancing with the Stars” instead of doing hard news. “What of the liberal church”; you may fairly ask. My Answer is apparently the words of the prophets have been given a new world interpretation that infers only wealthy people are worth defending. The poor, well, they can’t tithe anyway, so screw ‘em.

July 10 at 12:12pm

Peter S. Mizla

The migration out of certain Marine Species- and invasion of those in from warmer waters is happening along the New England coast. Lobsters continue to decline in Long Island sound- while blue crab are increasing (from the Chesapeake Bay).

The apocalyptic visions of the dust storm in Phoenix, seems like something out of a Science Fiction film. it has brought that large metro area to a halt. Could this be Dallas, Oklahoma city in 10-15 years? St. Louis or Chicago?

July 6 at 3:04pm

Me

My neighbor has just arrived from Phoenix. She had never seen anything like it – one slitted window and lots of dust. But haboobs are not unknown, it’s the quantity and size that is on the increase.
(Susan Anderson commenting)

July 8 at 1:15pm

Paul Magnus

wow… Climate Change really has arrived in the US…

Phoenix Dust Storm: Arizona Hit With Monstrous ‘Haboob’ (PHOTOS/VIDEO).

https://www.facebook.com/p​ermalink.php?story_fbid=18​0632158662877&id=139434822​741700

July 6 at 2:45pm

Leif Erik Knutsen

Allow me to make your link Hyper Peter.
<http://www.huffingtonpost.​com/2011/07/06/phoenix-dus​t-storm-photos-video_n_891​157.html?ir=Canada>

July 6 at 3:51pm

Paul Magnus

and how do you do that bit of magic….

July 6 at 4:05pm

Prokaryotes

THe theory goes that you have to friend CP on fb and maybe CP must friend you in order to make the magic happen …

Btw i hope CP is switching to a comment system which supports G+ . rather sooner then later, Thanks!

July 6 at 6:20pm

Leif Erik Knutsen

Paul: Prokaryotes explanation is as good as anything. I am “Friends” with Joe R. However Joe has not been able to make it work either with any regularity. I do not understand all I know about this contraption so magic is as good as anything. I do use <…> on the links but that is all I can tell you.

July 6 at 6:58pm

Bass Virus

We get dust storms every year during the monsoon.
This one was bigger than average, but not the biggest i have ever seen.

The year we had our record temp (in ’90 i believe) we had more then one that was bigger than this.

July 8 at 1:41pm

Paul Magnus

Apparently this is a 100yr event according to accuweather…

July 8 at 3:20pm

newburg

With warmer, more acidic oceans likely to become more so, perhaps it’s time to get the food scientists onto this (if they can find an energy efficient concentrating process of course). Jellyent White anyone? Mmmm.

July 6 at 3:22pm

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