Ghostly swarms of jellyfish along Israel’s coast have banished summer swimmers from Mediterranean waters, warning of ecological imbalances caused by climate change.
- Israel’s economy has lost millions in tourism revenue due to the influx of jellyfish
- The Nature and Parks Authority says they are clogging desalination plants and industrial fishing nets
- Navy director Guy Lavian says warmer ocean temperatures due to climate change are to blame
By stinging swimmers, the translucent invertebrates have cost the country an estimated $10 million a year ($4.1 million) in lost tourism.
As their seasonal numbers increase, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority said they also clog desalination plants and industrial fishing nets.
“The water is getting warmer and we can see more and more jellyfish,” Navy Director Guy Lavian said.
Jellyfish, which thrive in higher temperatures, compete for food and habitats with other marine species.
But according to the Israel Society for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (ISEES), overfishing has helped skew this competition in their favor.
The same goes for the Suez Canal – a 150-year-old man-made Egyptian canal that allowed invasive species to travel from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea – which is now home to 17 types of mostly non-poisonous jellyfish.
Agricultural fertilizer leaks at sea have also served as food for jellyfish, ISEES said.