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Jellyfish Takeover Harming Tourism, Fisheries

Nov 06, 2013 11:50 AM EST

As jellyfish continue to stage a takeover of the world's oceans, industries throughout the globe are beginning to feel the effects.

"In Hawaii there have been times that 800 or 1,000 people have been stung in a day," Lisa-Ann Gershwin, author of the book "Stung! On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean," told CNN. "In Spain or Florida, it's not uncommon in recent years for a half a million people to be stung during an outbreak. These numbers are simply astonishing."

A study by the University of British Columbia last year identified a 62 percent increase in areas as far-reaching as Hawaii and Antarctica. The invasion got so bad in southern Europe, Britain's foreign office issued a travel warning in July to would-be swimmers headed to the region.

This is bad news for tourism, the author told CNN.

"Jellyfish and tourism are not happy bedfellows," she said, noting that many popular beach resorts throughout the globe are facing massive increases in jellyfish bloom activity. "The French and Spanish Rivieras, Chesapeake Bay, the Great Barrier Reef, Hawaii ... some of the numbers are staggering."

According to a report by Fernando Borea for the General FIsheries Commission for the Mediterranean and United Nations, jellyfish blooms "have been known since ancient times and are part of the normal functioning of the oceans." However, throughout the last 10 years, "the media are reporting on an increasingly high number of gelatinous plankton blooms" as a result of tourists being stung and fisheries "harmed or even impaired" as jellyfish devour all the fish eggs and larvae in their path.

The takeover can be directly linked to the jellyfish's willingness to go to any means to ensure the survival of their species, Gershwin's book reports.

The Telegraph cites the author as writing: "Hermaphroditism. Cloning. External fertilisation. Self fertilisation. Courtship and copulation. Fission. Fusion. Cannibalism. You name it, jellyfish [are] doing it."

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