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How do you tackle an invasion of giant jellyfish? Try making sushi
THEY are called echizen kurage and they sound like monsters from the trashier reaches of Japanese science fiction.
They are 6ft wide and weigh 450lb (200kg), with countless poisonous tentacles, they have drifted across the void to terrorise the people of Japan. Vast armadas of the slimy horrors have cut off the country’s food supply. As soon as one is killed more appear to take its place.
Finally, the quarrelsome governments of the region are banding together to unite against the enemy.
Echizen kurage is not an extraterrestrial invader, but a giant jellyfish that is devastating the livelihoods of fishermen in the Sea of Japan. Nomura’s jellyfish, as it is known in English, is the biggest creature of its kind off Japan and for reasons that remain mysterious its numbers have surged in the past few months.
The problem has become so serious that fishery officials from Japan, China and South Korea are to meet this month for a “jellyfish summit” to discuss strategies for dealing with the invasion. Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party has formed a jellyfish countermeasures committee and fishermen are at work on technology to keep the marauders out of their nets.
The problem first became obvious in the late summer when fishermen chasing anchovies, salmon and yellowtail began finding huge numbers of the jellyfish in their nets.
Often the weight of the echizen kurage broke the nets or crushed the fish to death; those that survived were poisoned and beslimed by their tentacles.
Fishermen on the northern tip of Honshu, Japan’s main island, were forced to suspend work at the height of the lucrative salmon season.
In Akita prefecture some communities saw their incomes fall by 80 per cent. The gizzard shad fishers of South Korea have also been plagued by the Nomura’s.
In some places jellyfish density is reported to be a hundred times higher than normal. Worst of all, no one yet understands why. One theory is that global warming is heating up the seawater and encouraging jellyfish breeding.
Giant Jellyfish Invade Northern Gulf of Mexico; Could Threaten Gulf Shrimp, Crab Fisheries. 08-09-00
Giant "jellies" - up to two feet in diameter - have taken up residence in the northern Gulf of Mexico causing swimmers and fishermen to do a double take when they first spy them. Known as the "Spotted Jellyfish, "...
...they have already found indications that the jellies are reproductively active and growing to their large size due to the algae-rich Mississippi Sound.
"Normally, this species of jellyfish only grows to six or eight inches in diameter," says Perry. "Some of the things we investigating are how widespread the invasion is, what their feeding habits are, how much they eat, and whether they can survive over the winter months in the Gulf waters."
Giant Jellyfish Discovery
An enormous and new species of jellyfish was discovered in early 1998 in the eastern Pacific. It was named Chrysaora achlyos from the Greek 'achlys' meaning mist, darkness and obscurity - a clever reference to its dark coloration and rare appearance. The subject had a smooth, purple/black coloured bell and light pink tentacles stretching 20ft.
The jellyfish had previously been reported in large numbers off southern California and Mexico during 1989. It is thought to have arrived there from the south, approaching along the outer coast of the Baja California peninsula.
It has actually appeared on two occasions at least this century with photographs either unlabelled or incorrectly identified published in 1926 and 1965. It hadn't been seen since 1989 though, and this is the first occasion it has been considered a new species to science.