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Wednesday September 1, 2010

Why Medusa rules the waves in Majorca

Jellyfish, known as medusa here in the Baleares, have recently become a bit of a bother. Ten years ago it was rare to see swarms of the translucent creatures bobbing on the waves but this summer there has been a veritable invasion.

Environmentalists cite global warming and over fishing as the reason for their dramatic rise in the Baleares and along the Spanish coastline but there are other factors such as the demise of tortuga boba, the Loggerhead sea turtle which graces our shores. In the past, thanks to its appetite for jellyfish, the floating invaders were kept under control.

Sea turtles keep at bay the stinging jellyfish of the Baleares
On the small island of Cabrera, a national park to the south of Majorca, conservationists have for years offered sanctuary to the sea turtle and a safe nesting area for its eggs but they are fighting a losing battle as thousands of the creatures become trapped in fishermen’s nets or are suffocated by plastic bags, a product of human waste thrown carelessly into the sea. The marine foundation, Fundación Aspro Natura Marineland , has set up conservation and education programmes and works closely with the Balearic government to protect the Loggerhead turtle but its future is gloomy. It has been estimated that globally millions of turtles have been killed during the last two decades, most drowned when ensnared in nets or caught on fishing hooks.

Despite valiant efforts by teams of Spanish environmentalists to catch jellyfish along the coast, there are simply too many to clear. So it seems that until drastic action is taken to preserve the sea turtles, the Baleares and Spain as a whole will continue to attract masses of the stinging phantoms of the sea.

Never has a salt water swimming pool sounded so good.

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