Jellyfish Close Nuclear Plant, Prepare To Take Over World

Abby Zimet

A several-ton bloom, or plague, of jellyfish clogging its pipes just forced Sweden's Oskarshamn plant, one of the world's largest nuclear reactors, to shut down - an event you'd think would be big news if invasions of up to four million jellyfish at a time hadn't already likewise closed nuclear plants in California, Sweden, Japan and India, as well as causing a Filipino power blackout (coal-fire power plant) and U.S. aircraft carrier shutdown. Exploring the current explosion of jellyfish populations in the world's oceans, part of devastating oceanic changes largely wrought by humankind, a new book by biologist Lisa-ann Gershwin blames it on the jellyfish's own invincible biological makeup and the usual suspects: us. Overfishing has tipped the balance of complex ecosystems; plastic waste and fishing methods are destroying the few natural jellyfish predators; oil and gas drilling platforms and other floating rubbish serve as jellyfish nurseries; industrial and agricultural waste have caused low oxygen, high nitrogen and rising acidity in oceans in which fish cannot survive, but jellyfish can; and climate change exacerbates it all. Startlingly, Gershwin finds jellyfish displacing penguins in Antarctica, crashing the world’s fisheries and taking over "the oceans as we know bite at a time."

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