WITH the increasing water temperatures as a result of climate change, members of the public have been advised to expect an abundance of jellyfish in waters around the country.
Responding to questions from this newspaper, the Ministry of Fisheries said in a statement that the two species of jellyfishes found in Fiji were Portuguese man-of-war (Physalia physalis – not a true jellyfish but a carnivore) and box jellyfish (Chironex sp) that can deliver fatal stings but are regarded as rare in Fiji.
The ministerial statement said some marine species were subsequently displaced by climate change-induced rise in surface temperatures.
“Jellyfish are resistant to this change and thrive in such environments.
“These species are mostly found in degraded habitat and as such any associated marine fauna usually found in the area may be toxic due to their feeding habit at the degraded habitat,” the statement said.
“In warm months, there is an increase in sea surface temperatures and there is an influx in marine organism activities.
“This leads to a chain of events that would spike species population eg, balolo. Based on science, influx of species also occurs during spawning months.”
The Portuguese man-of-war (Physalia physalis) has very long stinging tentacles.
Found in warm waters, its sting could lead to an allergic reaction which can result in fever, shock and impaired heart and lung function.
“It may cause death, but very rare, however, its sting can be treated with salt water only, followed by warm water,” the ministerial statement said.
“While the box jellyfish delivers fatal stings, they are rare and the traditional method of curing its sting is by using onions or applying urine.”
Lately, this newspaper has been receiving concerns about the influx of jellyfishes found in waters around the country.