Jerusalem - Israel’s beach season is in full swing and the annual jellyfish season has also begun, inconveniencing local beachgoers and tourists alike.

The swarm, consisting of tens of millions of jellyfish, has reached Israel’s coast over the past week. Israelis have come to know the phenomenon far too well. The marine animals spoil the beach experience for beach lovers across Israel’s beaches every year, with painful stings that render the water almost inaccessible.

Luckily, the plague lasts only a few weeks. The swarm has also become the cause of concern for industry, as they invaded a power station in southern Israel.

Concerns have also been raised over the creatures’ effect on local marine life. Dr. Tamar Lotan and Professor Dror Angel, experts at the University of Haifa’s Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences, explained what’s behind this year’s massive jellyfish swarms and what can be done about it.

The feeling many Israelis have that the swarms of jellyfish have increased in recent years isn’t quite backed by hard evidence, the marine biologists explained. This is due to the lack of quantitative assessments of the swarms. The phenomenon has been occurring yearly since the 1980s in varying abundances.

However, this year does seem to be especially bad, due to an exceptionally strong winter, they explained.

“The recent winter had exceptionally high rainfall that washed out large quantities of nutrients to our normally nutrient-poor sea, driving production rates up and providing lots of food to all members of the marine food web, including the jellyfish,” the experts said.

Though the biggest threat to most of us as beachgoers is an unpleasant sting, and in severe cases, a scar, the ramifications of the jellyfish swarms on marine life can be much graver. Jellyfish are predators and massive swarms with large predation pressure can cause ecosystems to become unbalanced. In some cases, the jellyfish have caused numerous fish populations to die out.

Additionally, jellyfish swarms often cause mechanical clogging of coastal power plants that use seawater to cool their turbines and have been known to cause problems for desalination plants. This is particularly problematic for Israel, which desalinates much of its drinking water. Read more at VINnews