Would you like fries with your jellyfish burger?
While I'm a pretty open-minded guy when it comes to trying new food, I'm drawing the line at jellyfish. Taste aside, it's the texture of this creature that would most likely disagree with me. Think of a breast implant sandwiched between two sesame-seed buns and you get the idea.
Why am I droning on about jellyfish and breast implants? The former is thanks to a new story over on Grist lamenting the rise in populations of the little squishy creatures. The later is something my therapist and I have been working on. Either way, the point here is that overfishing and climate change are causing jellyfish to reproduce and cover a much larger swath of water than ever before. The decline of their predators -- and of fish species in general -- may mean that humans will have to shift their attention to more, potentially unappetizing, sources of food. It wouldn't be the first time jellyfish have appeared on the menu -- the Chinese have been chomping down on these slippery snacks for over 1,000 years.
Of course, a rise in jellyfish populations may become more than just a nuisance to fisherman. Australian swimmers are currently battling an increase in Irukandji jellyfish -- a close relative of one of the most deadly creatures on earth: the box jellyfish. The difference, however, is that while the box jellyfish is fairly large and easy to spot -- the irukandji is about the size of a thimble and nearly invisible in water. Even more of a bummer, it's sting is relatively mild, leading some people to chalk it up to a general jellyfish encounter. By the time serious symptoms develop, it's often too late to save a life. I just crossed "Swimming in Australia" off my list of things to do.
Much like Grist's article, the rise of the irukandji jellyfish in waters not generally associated as harboring the animal, is generally blamed on climate change and increasing water temperatures. How we treat the ocean -- and protect the species that keep the food chain intact, however, is just as heavily important. If we don't want to be eating jellyfish burgers one day, we should pay attention to the warning signs of today swimming at us from every direction.
Author bio: Michael is an multi-cellular hominid with a love of sustainable culture and technology. He is the founder of a number of quasi-popular sites like Ecorazzi, GroovyGreen, Ecorattle, and VEGdaily. You can stalk him (or hit him up for some loose change) on Twitter @michaeldestries.
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