The throbbing gelatinous jellyfish of today’s oceans are the watery equivalent of yesteryear’s canaries in a coal mine. And they are sending us a dire warning.
Jellyfish feed on the lowest portion of the food chain, the plankton that would otherwise sustain plentiful schools of herring and other species eaten by salmon, birds and marine mammals. Large numbers of jellyfish spell trouble for the ecosystem because almost nothing eats them.
These “dead end” organisms are increasing in South Puget Sound and portions of the Hood Canal where increased acidity, low oxygen and generally poor water conditions also exist.
Biologists aren’t sure why the jellies are increasing or how to reverse the trend, but they all agree that it’s not good news for Puget Sound.