Blue Blubber Invasion Down Under

Life imitates art -

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post which included mentions of both the Blue blubber jellyfish and the box jellyfish. Ironically, The Daily Mail website featured an article, yesterday, about an invasion of blue blubbers in Queensland, Australia.

Blue blubber hits the beach

Blue Blubber Jellyfish

Blue blubber jelly fish live in swarms just below the ocean’s surface. Despite the name, some individuals in this species are white or brown.

Thousands of these coelenterates[1], Catostylus mosaicus, washed up on the beach at Deception Bay, north of Brisbane. One observer noted the beach appeared to be covered in bubble wrap.

Blue blubbers have mild stings; So mild that kids were throwing them at each other. While the invasion is an annual occurrence, this year’s event is larger than usual. A cause for the higher than usual numbers has yet to be determined.

Small But Deadly

Irukandji

This box jellyfish may be tiny but it can kill.

The article in the Daily Mail also referenced two other articles concerning the Irukandji jellyfish. The Irukandji is a type of box jellyfish and it is the nastiest of the nasty when it comes to stings. An Australian documentary about these gelatinous beasts was entitled Killer Jellyfish.

But wait! There’s more!

One should not become too complacent about Irukandji being confined to the land down under. Irukandji are increasingly found in Florida as well as other parts of the U.S. Rather than a mass migration, the cause has more to do with shipping than anything else. More likely than not, a cargo ship of some sort took on ballast water in Australia – or elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific – which happened to contain Irukandji.

At some point, the ship flushed its ballast tanks in Florida waters and the Irukandji suddenly became U.S. residents. So far, there have been no large outbreaks in the waters off Florida. However, as the Earth’s oceans continue to grow warmer, it is only a matter of time.

Irukandji and Colony Island

The Irukandji jelly fish will play a central role in the final book of the Colony Island series. Things like warming seas have caused the Irukandji population to explode and the waters surrounding Florida are no longer safe. Will Colony Island be part of the problem’s solution? You’ll just have to wait to find out.


[1] The author is old school. Originally, all jellyfish were included in the phylum, Coelenterata. Further study of the members of this phylum revealed significant differences. True jellies were placed in their own phylum, Cnidaria.

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