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ESAblawg is an educational effort by Keith W. Rizzardi. Correspondence with this site does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Photos or links may be copyrighted (but used with permission, or as fair use). ESA blawg is published with a Creative Commons License.

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florida gators... never threatened!

If you ain't a Gator, you should be! Alligators (and endangered crocs) are important indicator species atop their food chains, with sensitivity to pollution and pesticides akin to humans. See ESA blawg. Gator blood could be our pharmaceutical future, too. See ESA musing.


Follow the truth.

"This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." -- Thomas Jefferson to William Roscoe, December 27, 1820.


Thanks, Kevin.

KEVIN S. PETTITT helped found this blawg. A D.C.-based IT consultant specializing in Lotus Notes & Domino, he also maintains Lotus Guru blog.

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Beach closures due to jellyfish explosion?

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"No swimming allowed due to jellyfish."  This sign could be coming soon to a beach near you.

Jellyfish, it seems, "are to the oceans what pigeons are to cities. Both animals seem to be able to flourish in environments that have been radically altered by human activities" Kenneth W. Kizer, MD, MPH.   See article, Wilderness and Environmental Medicine: Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 66–66.

For Floridians like myself, life is a beach, and beach closures mean huge tourist dollars could be at stake.  So perhaps we should be taking the jellyfish problem more seriously.  After all, over the past 15 years, news articles have documented dramatic increases in jellyfish in the Gulf of Mexico, Florida Atlantic coast, Louisiana and Mississippi.  See Marco Island Sun Times article.   See also, ScienceDaily.  Europe is noting massive jellyfish increases too.  See article in the Guardian.

Some articles note the potential influence of climate change.  See, the Independent.  However, another problem seems to be fewer predators, and thus, more jelly fish.  See Live Science article.  Now here's where the ESA and wildlife law nexus comes in: jellyfish are preyed upon by sea turtles and tuna -- two species at the heart of numerous, ongoing wildlife law disputes.  

Many sea turtles are already listed species, protected by the ESA, yet core sea turtle nesting populations have continued a steep decline.  See Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute report.  Their decline benefits the jellyfish.  Indeed, Leatherback sea turtles have a jaw that evolved for the specific purpose of jellyfish consumption.  See, Connecticut Dept. of Environmental Protection.   National Wildlife Federation article.  Fewer turtles means more jellyfish.

Meanwhile, tuna are not yet listed -- they remain a huge part of the human diet -- but scientists continue to document severe population declines.  See, Guardian articles with statements by World Wildlife Fund, and by numerous international fishing agencies.  Tuna, however, also prey upon jellyfish, although not to the degree that turtles do.  See, Fromentin and Powers, "Atlantic bluefin tuna: population dynamics, ecology, fisheries and management" at page 16.  Nevertheless, the loss of massive numbers of tuna in the fisheries must be a contributing factor to the jellyfish explosion.

Sadly, the solution adopted in Valencia, Spain was not to decrease tuna fishing, or to better protect nesting turtles.  Rather, it was to train volunteers to collect jellyfish on the beaches. See MSNBC report.  While that approach may hide the symptoms, the illness still exists.  The jellyfish are out there...