Is the key to immortality the humble Jellyfish?
We have another great video from Daisy Crocket. She has got in the water with the Jellyfish that are filling her bay on the west coast of Canada and from that she’s made this great video and tells us more about the moon jellies!
This year the moon jellies (Aurelia aurita) took over many of the bays, inlets, and lagoons of the Broughton Archipelago. A jamboree of millions of flashing, pulsing jellies is a sight that leaves you in a stunned, jaw-dropping state of wonderment. Finding these gatherings, technically called a bloom, swarm or smack, is always a yearly ritual for me.
Jellyfish are multi-millennial survivors. They are one of the worlds most successful organisms, silently swimming for over 500 million years, surviving and taking over the oceans many times in the fossil records, when most others have perished.
Great survivalists, whether human or animal, have always been highly regarded for their ability to adapt to changing circumstances, but jellyfish thrive because they are the change. They have never needed to adapt.
Simple, brainless jellyfish are not affected by mass extinction, nor by the devastating results of our world’s dying coral reefs, acidifying oceans, climate changes, shifting ecosystems, massive over-fishing, unsustainable aquaculture, mass mining of krill, vanishing fish stocks, agriculture and urban runoff, toxic chemical waste, plankton blooms, hypoxic, oxygen depleted regions or ocean dead zones.
In fact, jellyfish are flourishing in such conditions, out competing and killing their struggling competition. They are opportunists and generalists that can eat just about anything and they have begun to take over our oceans again.
These jiggly, stinging, drifting bells of water are actually fearsome predators. Not only can they consume more than 1/2 their weight in food per day, but they also feed from the bottom up, consuming the eggs and larvae stages of anything from microscopic plankton to invertebrates, including fish nearly as large as themselves (Some reach 6 feet across).
Massive jellyfish blooms have already caused aquaculture die off, nuclear power station shutdowns, beach closures, increased numbers of sting victims, desalination plant breakdowns, have crashed fisheries and have already become the top predator in many of our once diverse and abundant fishing areas.
They’re also born with the knowledge of immortality. Though seemingly fragile as a tentacle-hanging medusa, stuck to the ocean floor in their polyp stage, like a mini sea anemone, jellies are making an endless amount of little stacks of plate-like clones ready to explode at anytime, in 13 different ways.
Oh and did I mention the fact that jellyfish are pretty much indestructible…when sliced in half they can still reproduce and actually cause others to do so as well, depending on size, each jelly can produce tens of thousands to 1 billion eggs, which can be externally or conveniently, self fertilized and they are not harmed by chemicals, electric shocks, biocides, bubble curtains or diversional nets.
Being the ultimate minimalist, they’ve also sorted out the problem of starvation; when food is scarce a jelly doesn’t just get skinnier and weaker due to lack of nourishment, they just shrink, as fully reproductive, healthy individuals.
And when huge blooms do die, they become slimy, toxic waste for most other life forms, as they decay on the seafloor…
So what does this all mean?
Lisa-ann Gershwin, author of Stung! says, “Jellyfish rules the seas, they’ve done it before, we’re helping them do it again.” I think jellyfish are calling us out on our worldwide, cultural beliefs, “birth-rites” and “collective amnesia” surrounding the disappearing life, degradation and disease of our oceans.
Even with all the scientific and visual evidence we sting cling to and continue to believe in this vision of limitless bounty and endless profit and progress from our oceans. We’ve even come to accept the condition of our water as normal, as if it’s happened before so it’s ok.
I get it, it’s easier and less emotional to think this way, it feels safe and convenient to use the ‘it’s just little me’ standard of thinking when it comes to the responsibility of seeing ourselves in the bigger picture, but most people know there’s something terribly wrong happening with our natural world and for the most part, we are the cause of it. It’s this inability and refusal to connect the dots we need to shift.
Connection is the solution. For all of history, “when Homo sapiens gain access to large animals, we eat them.” “90% of our ‘big’ game fish, mammals and seabirds are nearing extinction, their numbers are so low they no longer contribute or are meaningful to their ecosystem.” (Ranson Myers & Boris Worm 2003)
But we can shift our perspectives and heal our waters. We have the unlimited ability to inform ourselves and join in taking action, even from our homes. Don’t be overwhelmed, know that you do have the bold courage to make the choices our wild hearts believe in, for if you don’t tap into this truth, get ready to eat jellyfish soup.
Nikki van Schyndel
Adventurer – Wilderness Guide – Expert Tracker & Primitive Survivalist
Tired of waiting for her plane to crash or a worldwide technical disaster to create a real-life survival emergency, Nikki paid someone to abandon her on a deserted island in the wilderness for nearly two years, testing her skills and learning the truths of survival. From dream home to lean-to, diamonds to bear claws, Nikki shares this incredible journey in her bestselling book Becoming Wild.
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