Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pink poison

On A1 today, by Sebastian Moffett: an article chronicling the Nomura Jellyfish invasion of Japan, a.k.a. an exercise in alliteration for me! These amusing-but-scary 450-pound (!) pink monsters are evidently multiplying because of stupid fishermen, aggravating the problem. Overfishing of algae-consuming sea life has led to fewer fishy secondary consumers of that algae, leaving that much more for the tentacled terrors. Also, by using their infamous toxic tentacles, the slimies slay the fish, diminishing the market attractiveness of their victims, explains one fisherman: "When their mouths are wide open, it means they've died going, 'I'm in pain! I'm in pain!' "

However, these blasted blobs have spurred the seafood market in another direction: jellyfish Jello Jigglers!

One coastal firm, Tango Jersey Dairy, has for the past three years produced 2,000 or 3,000 cartons of vanilla-and-jellyfish ice cream. The jellyfish is soaked overnight in milk to reduce its smell, and is then diced. Fumiko Hirabayashi, a director of the dairy, says the jelly cubes are slightly chewy. Jellyfish is also getting publicity in women's magazines because it contains collagen, a protein used in cosmetics.

Scientists, predictably, are hypothesizing about the causes of this population explosion and are capitalizing on the opportunity to learn more about this jellyfish. Hypothesis one: "a computer model of...suggests the jellyfish are breeding off the Chinese coast near the mouth of the Yangtze River." Number two: "[P]ollution, perhaps linked to industrialization in China, is helping create more algae in the sea. The algae are food for plankton, which is food for jellyfish." Number three: blaming "the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric-power project under construction in the Yangtze, which could be changing water flows to the sea. A dam in a section of the Danube that runs between Serbia and Romania completed in 1972 changed the river flow, after which the jellyfish population of the Black Sea exploded."

The fishermen are also having fun slaying the slayers, either with pronged poles ("three or more bits" ensures that they'll get eaten by other sea predators) or with a "large potato masher" in their nets. Yum!

And we all know that since global warming is happening and that we'll all die, we surely have no doubt as to the accuracy of these computer models...


Aurora said...

Hannah, one way or another, they'll make it the fault of global warming somehow.
By the way, you should see our jellyfish in Australia. We have some which will cause you to die a very painful death!

MathewK said...

Yeah but the ones we've seen here aren't 450 pounds, even though they are quite nasty!!

Good grief that is huge, fish ice cream, maybe not.