Egypt’s environment ministry follows up on North Coast’s unseasonable jellyfish infestation

Ahram Online , Wednesday 28 Jun 2017

The ministry denied rumours that the infestation was tied to the Suez Canal expansion project, which began in August 2015

File photo: A jellyfish (Reuters)

Egypt's Ministry of Environment said Wednesday that it has formed a committee to investigate the cause of an unseasonable infestation of jellyfish along the country's North Coast, which has spoiled the vacations of thousands of holidaymakers celebrating the Eid holiday, a statement on the ministry's Facebook page read.

Holidaymakers celebrating the week of Eid vacation, which follows a month of fasting from dusk until dawn during Ramadan, were upset to find thousands of jellyfish in the water which stung some who dared to take a swim.

Photos of the jellyfish washing up on the shores of the North Coast have spread across social media.

The environment ministry said the jellyfish is a nomadic species called Rhopilema nomadica, which is indigenous to the Indian and Pacific Oceans but has been found in the Mediterranean since the 1970s.

This jellyfish is usually found on the coastlines of Egypt’s Al-Arish, Port Said and Damietta, but has recently extended to the western North Coast, a phenomenon that begs further research, the statement added.

The ministry said the Rhopilema nomadica was also observed this winter in Lebanon, Israel and Cyprus.

As a general rule, the movement of jellyfish is closely tied to climate change, pollution, overfishing and turtle poaching.

The ministry detailed how to deal with a jellyfish’ sting and possible health problems to be aware of.

One silver lining the ministry noted was that in 2004, China imported 600 tonnes of jellyfish from Egypt. These exports could increase, it said, if more fishermen decided to catch the fish considered a delicacy in Chinese cuisine.

In the comments section, the ministry denied rumours that the infestation was related to the expansion of the Suez Canal, begun in August 2015, saying that some entities spread this rumour "for political purposes."

The ministry assured inquirers that an environmental impact assessment was conducted prior to construction of the canal's new extension.

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