11 May, 2024 @ 13:04
1 min read

Jellyfish warning in Spain: Potentially dangerous creatures are arriving earlier and in larger numbers this year, say sealife experts

Giant Jellyfishh
Rhizostoma Luteum

UNUSUALLY warm weather last month on Spain’s Costa Brava attracted bathers to the sea, earlier than the norm for a dip. But to their surprise, people discovered another creature that had been attracted to the shore by the high temperatures: jellyfish. 

In the Bahia des Roses, there were thousands of specimens of the Pelagia noctiluca, a violet jellyfish that usually lives out in the open water. 

“The lack of rain affects the quality of coastal water, making it similar to that of the open sea, which favours the presence of these creatures,” Josep Maria Gili, a researcher at the Institute of Marine Sciences, told eltiempo.es.

The beach was covered with a layer of the jellyfish in the second week of April, with the worst-affected area being Cala Montjoi, famous for having been the home to the restaurant El Bulli. 

Read more: Hordes of transparent organisms are washing up on Spain’s Costa del Sol: How ‘salps’ can cause a nasty smell and slimy sea water

Giant Jellyfishh
Jellyfish are appearing on Spanish beaches earlier than expected.

Back in February, meanwhile, the coast of Galicia was also victim to dozens of jellyfish washing up on the shoreline, according to a report in online newspaper 20minutos

The Pelagia noctiluca ‘can really sting and is very dangerous depending on the sensitivity of the person’, Diego Lopez Arquillo, scientific diver and researcher at the European University of the Canary Islands, told the paper. 

The early arrival of such jellyfish to the coasts of Spain is an unusual phenomenon, but experts say that it will become more and more frequent given the early arrival of higher temperatures due to climate change, as well as the drought the country has been suffering in recent months.

Lopez added that ‘more research’ is needed to improve predictions of when the jellyfish will arrive. 

“Influences range from slight modifications in sea currents due to temperature changes to storms, such as the recent Nelson, which can suddenly change their distribution with respect to the assumed pattern of arrival in summer,” explained Lopez.

Other factors that influence their arrival is overfishing, which reduces the number of predators that would usually eat the jellyfish, as well as an increase in nutrients in the sea caused by run-off from agriculture. 

The worst-affected areas in Spain for the phenomenon are predicted to be the Costa Brava, the Alboran Sea, the Balearics, the Canaries and Galicia. 

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