The migratory jellyfish Rhopilema nomadica has entered the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal in the late 1970’s and rapidly expanded in the central and western Mediterranean. It has already been reported in Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Tunisia, and Italy. This year, there was an exceptional increase in jellyfish in February on the Eastern Mediterranean coasts. The migratory jellyfish Rhopilema nomadica was first seen in the Lebanese coasts and then at the Turkish coasts a week later. It was first observed on the eastern coasts of Turkey, in the Gulfs of İskenderun and Mersin, then in the Gulf of Antalya, and sailors and fishermen reported many sightings. Observations with varying frequency in March continued on to April, mainly from the sea and coasts of Antalya. Rhopilema nomadica previously increased in Antalya in 2009 and 2010 and caused adverse effects. In previous years in the Mediterranean, this much increase in the abundance of jellyfish was experienced in late spring and summer. With increasing water temperatures, the jelly increase started at the end of winter and is likely to increase further in the coming days.

Please be careful … Avoid Contact
Due to the presence of nematocytes (cnidocyte), clinical effects such as inflammation, pruritus, red & irritated marks on the skin and swelling may be observed upon physical contact.

“Swimmers, divers and amateur and professional fishermen must be careful and avoid contact with the jellyfish. Additionally, serious clinical cases can be observed in allergic people. Children should not touch the stranded jellyfish and if they come into contact, they should not touch other parts of their body or their eyes. In case of contact, the tentacles stay attached to the skin and activated nematocysts initiate burning and itching. The itching then leaves its place to pain and redness. Nematocysts are sensitive to osmotic changes like freshwater submersion and result in further nematocyst discharge. Use only seawater or salty water, ammonia or vinegar to wash the contacted area. Get medical care if you are experiencing any symptoms worse than skin irritation or have trouble breathing.”

Please report your observations…
Rhopilema nomadica entered the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal and poses a threat to fisheries, tourism and human health in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. It is very important to establish monitoring programs in order to reduce the negative effects of jellyfish.

If you see jellyfishes, please send a message (preferably with a picture) to tudav(at)tudav.org or call TUDAV (Tel: 0216 4240772)

About Rhopilema nomadica

It has a nearly spherical umbrella but no marginal tentacles. The nematocysts are found on the oral arms and the edge of the umbrella. The umbrella is pale blue with a diameter of 90 cm and a weight of 10 kg. It is a “Lessepsian” species that entered the Mediterranean Sea from the Red Sea. It feeds on planktons and has a high reproductive potential since it can reproduce both sexually and asexually. Therefore, in short periods and especially from June to September, it can be seen more often and becomes a potential danger for swimmers, fishermen and divers.

Photos: Dr. Elif ÖZGÜR ÖZBEK