Fighting jelly with jelly


The Cold War isn’t over in Russia, it’s just all wet. The Black Sea is suffering human-caused ecological disaster, and nature is aiming to clean it up itself by starting a spineless war in the sea’s dark waters.

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It seems that, in the 1980s, a non-native jellyfish known as the Mnemiopsis leidyi hitched a ride into the sea in a ship’s ballast water, according to NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC NEWS. The little bugger reproduced, and proceeded to eat all the zooplankton, fish eggs, and other yummy things in the sea that the local bird and fish populations depended on. Toxic algae blooms and devastation of the region’s sprat, anchovy, and scad populations followed.

But in true Darwinian style and without inept (or at least conscious) intervention by humans, another non-native and particularly voracious jellyfish — no one seems to know where this species came from — seems to be invading as well, this one to munch on a few Mnemiopsis burgers. These killer jellyfish prefer other jellies to the lower-on-the-food-chain comestibles. Once the new predator finishes off the old, no one’s sure if the ecosystem will rebound, or if the enemy of this eco-enemy will make such a good friend after all.