On any given day, we might get food poisoning from the entire roast chicken we ate for lunch, catch bird flu from the bi-weekly cockfight we attend behind the Circle K, or crash our car while swerving to hit some smug-ass deer, taunting us from the roadside with his arrogant beauty. There are plenty of dangers that can befall humanity by virtue of our own asshole behaviors, but none that hold a candle to these:
Jellyfish are creepy looking, kind of dangerous, and unlike their fellow marine killer, the shark, they don't even taste that good. Which is why it's kind of a bummer that they're now poised to take over two-thirds of planet Earth.
H.P. Lovecraft wasn't all syphilis and racism.
In 2006 and 2010, huge swarms of jellyfish invaded the beaches of Spain, stinging tens of thousands of swimmers. In some places, these occupying jellyfish appeared in concentrations of up to ten per square meter. These swarms are called "jellyfish blooms," and they're popping up in oceans worldwide like cam chat-room ads on free porn sites. Hawaii and Ireland were similarly swarmed in 2007, Israel and France in 2008, and Tunisia and Italy in 2009.
Don't start screaming now. You'll be hoarse by the end of the article.
Man-Sized Jellyfish: Nature's way of saying, "fuck right off, divers."
Oh, and did we mention that one of the species exploding in population is the box jellyfish, a variety previously found in the waters off northern Australia? And that many of these things possess 6-8 foot long tentacles covered in venom that can kill a human in three minutes?.
What the hell did we do?
Three things: First, we're dumping massive amounts of agricultural waste into the ocean. The fertilizers present in that waste are designed to increase plant growth, but they'll do their job on algae just fine instead. That algae, in turn, feeds microzooplankton, which, along with a glass of orange juice and an inspirational speech from Tony the Tiger, are a big part of any jellyfish's balanced breakfast.
One day they'll learn to fly, and mankind will reap a just harvest of pain.
Second, the ocean in general has gotten warmer. Whether you want to chalk that up to global warming or angry wizards, the temperature has risen recently, and for unknown reasons that makes jellyfish both reproduce more and swim closer to the beaches. This particularly applies to tropical jellyfish -- you know, like that three-minute-death tentacle kind from earlier? That's what's waiting for you out in those clear blue waters, just humping and murdering up a storm, waiting for your children to swim on out and join the poison-orgy.
It's...less fun than it sounds.
Finally, we ate too much Omega-3. Overfishing has triggered the jellyfish uprising by killing off huge amounts of the tuna, sharks and turtles that usually prey on jellyfish and their eggs. So, on the plus side: Those are some awesomely low triglycerides you've got up in your blood! On the downside: Gelatinous poison monsters from the deep. Hey, you knew staying healthy was going to require some sacrifices. It's just that in this case, those sacrifices happen to be of the human variety.