BEIRUT — Swarms of non-native venomous jellyfish have invaded Lebanon’s Mediterranean Sea in the north but according to experts their spread is “not surprising during the summer season” and their abundance is “not worrying.”
The water was seen brimming with thousands of white bag-like sea animals off the Qalamoun region, Tripoli, in a video shared by our correspondent in the north Michel Hallak.
Some fishermen described the jellyfish numbers as “unprecedented,” but according to Miled Fakhry, the director of Lebanon’s National Center for Marine Sciences, the jellyfish numbers that invade Lebanon’s waters annually in the summer is subject to change as it depends on how the jellyfish pulse along on sea currents.
Fakhry explained to L’Orient Today that this type of jellyfish, which is non-native to the Mediterranean Sea, arrives from the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea through the Suez Canal. He added that the jellyfish will remain in the Lebanese waters until about mid to end of August.
Hallak reported that fishermen in the north tried, without much success, to drive the jellyfish away from their fishing vicinity by catching them in their nets. Fakhry noted that this technique is unyielding.
The phenomenon has also been observed in recent days in Jounieh’s bay, north of Beirut, according to a video circulating on social networks, as well as elsewhere in the Mediterranean, particularly in Southern France and on the Corsican coast, an island in the Western Mediterranean.
Jellyfish, which appeared 600 million years ago, are among the first inhabitants of the planet. Consisting of 95 to 98 percent water, without a brain, are able to float and swim but not to resist the sea currents. Fakhry pointed out that jellyfish, despite it being an invasive species, pose no serious risks to humans nor to the local marine biodiversity.
Swimmers have been reportedly deserting the seaside in the Qalamoun area for fear of being stung. Fakhry advised that people should be attentive as to where they swim because the jellyfish is venomous, meaning that it can sting humans when defending itself but would not cause serious health issues.