Why are jellyfish becoming more common in the oceans? For many scientists, including Lovina Fullgrabe from the Corsican marine research institute Stareso, overfishing of tuna and sea turtles, which both eat jellyfish, is one of the most plausible explanations. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in 2019 that the proliferation of jellyfish was causing the oceans to “gelify,” a type of mucus.
In any case, the appearance of large swarms of jellyfish has already led to the destruction of entire fish farms or the blockage of cooling systems for coastal power plants. But there is a lot of positive potential in the jellyfish, which have been populating the seas for around 600 million years. Science has some breakthroughs to thank for the cnidarians. For example, the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded for the use of the phosphor from jellyfish in the visualization of cell processes. The US space agency NASA is using jellyfish to study reproduction in weightlessness, and since 2017 the European Union has been working with the “GoJelly” project to find out how jellyfish could be used in nutrition, fertilization or against environmental pollution.
According to oceanographer Fabien Lombard from the marine research institute Laboratoire d’Océanographie de Villefranche/Mer, jellyfish can be used as food in fish farming or to maintain soil moisture, for example in viticulture. The jellyfish’s collagen is sometimes used in diapers or tampons to bind moisture and even makes concrete more flexible and earthquake-resistant.
In addition, research is being carried out into how jellyfish help to form cartilage in the human body and how jellyfish can bind plastic waste in the water.