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Jellyfish Threaten Greece’s Pristine Chalkidiki Beaches

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Jellyfish. Credit: Dan90266 , CC BY-SA 2.0/Wikipedia

An explosion in the population of jellyfish along some of the beaches in Greece is causing concern for beachgoers this summer.

Reports published Wednesday show that stinging jellyfish have begun to take over the waters near the popular tourist destination of Chalkidiki, northern Greece.

Jellyfish population explodes off some beaches in Greece

It is unclear which of two possible species of jellyfish — now usually referred to as “jellies” since they are not true fish — are flooding towards Greek shores. The jellies that are currently increasing rapidly along Greece’s beautiful beaches in Chalkidiki belong to two different species.

The first is the “Pelagia noctiluca,” commonly referred to as the “mauve stinger.” This species of jelly is usually a characteristic bright purple color, although coloration can range between pink, brown and yellow. Its sting can be very painful for humans and cause lasting discomfort, but is not generally considered dangerous.

The second species is named the “Chrysaora hysoscella,” also known as the “compass jellyfish.” This species of jelly also has its appearance to thank for its name. Compass jellies have V-shaped markings on their bells, making them resemble the face of a compass. They also can sting humans and are usually found in shallow waters.

This is the first time in forty years that so many jellies are abounding in Greek waters; however, there is disagreement surrounding what is causing this very much unwanted population boom.

Why is this phenomenon occurring?

The majority of sightings of huge populations of jellies in Greece come from the first “leg” of the Chalkidiki peninsula, Kassandra.

On Wednesday, the mayor of Kassandra, Anastasia Chalkia, spoke to about the issue facing her area’s beaches.

Chalkia claimed that the jellies “appeared due to sea currents and will leave in the same way,” and that they have already “been displaced to the Gulf of Torone.” It is true that many species of jellies rely on tides and currents to move from place to place; however there are differing opinions on the cause of the ongoing issue in Chalkdiki.

Speaking to the same publication, Charles Hintiroglou, a professor of Marine Biology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki gave his opinion on the plague of jellies.

According to the professor, jelly populations increase periodically, and the phenomenon is still being studied. “We do not know why they show this population increase,” noted Hintiroglou.

“It is a phenomenon that we have been observing for half a century; it is not something new. In recent years, every 4-5 years there has been an outbreak of varying size,” he added.
Still others argue that the population increase is due to global warming and climate change. The compass jelly in particular has been found by multiple scientific studies to increase in population in warmer water temperatures. 
Warmer water temperatures aid in the jellies’ reproduction cycles, and allow for larger groups to swarm Greek waters following a very mild winter — like we had in 2020/2021.

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