No poisonous jellyfish found along Egypt's Mediterranean coast: Environment ministry

Ahram Online , Sunday 2 Jul 2017

Holidaymakers have been complaining about the large numbers of blue jellyfish in the sea along the coast

File photo of Jellyfish in a Japanese aquarium, that boasts largest collection of jellyfish in the world, June 7, 2017. (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt’s environment ministry has said that there are no poisonous jellyfish on the country’s Mediterranean shores, rejecting reports that some beaches have been closed because of the presence of a poisonous blue species, the Portugese man-o-war.

Last week, local holidaymakers reported finding thousands of jellyfish in the water in beaches along Egypt’s popular northern coast, with some reporting stings.

Photos of jellyfish washing up on the shore have also been spread across social media. The ministry said last week that the jellyfish belong to the species Rhopilema nomadica, also known as the nomad jellyfish.

In a subsequent statement on Sunday, the ministry said that a special commission conducted field research inspecting the types of jellyfish appearing on the north coast had found only two non-poisonous and not life threatening species in the area: Rhopilema nomadica, and Rhizostoma.

“The colours of jellyfish appearing in Egypt range from white, light blue to darker shades of blue. The blue colour is due to the presence of some kind of symbiotic algae on their bodies. These colours vary from one type to another depending on the age range, heat, and food; in addition some change colours and others do not,” the statement read.

The ministry also said it is coordinating with all concerned ministries to respond quickly to any kind of emergency that may arise as a result of the emergence of jellyfish on the Egyptian coast, through field teams on the beaches.

The ministry referred to reports of a jellyfish swarm in Kuwait which obstructed the operation of a power plant, citing this incident as showing the increase of jellyfish around the world due to rising temperatures.

On Wednesday, the ministry issued a statement saying 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.

The environment ministry said last week that the jellyfish belong to a species called Rhopilema nomadica, which is indigenous to the Indian and Pacific oceans but has been found in the Mediterranean since the 1970s. This species is usually found on the coastlines of Egypt’s Arish, Port Said and Damietta, but has recently ventured west along the north coast.

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 said.

The ministry has shared details of its public hotline (19808) and WhatsApp number (01222693333) for any further enquiries.

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