Mauve stinger jellyfish spotted along the shore line in Xlendi
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A mauve stinger jellyfish bloom was seen around the shore line in Xlendi Bay today, these jellyfish have been observed in the Mediterranean since at least 1785, but outbreaks of the species have become more frequent since only 1999.
Until 1998, Pelagia blooms occurred every 12 years and had an average duration of 4 years – since then, they have become more common, presumably as a result of the stressed status of the Mediterranean, due to climate change, overfishing and coastal urbanisation and discharges. Abnormally-large mauve stingers, having a diameter exceeding 15cm in many cases, were witnessed last year in the Maltese islands.
The mauve stinger is a highly versatile species, being able to tolerate sea temperatures ranging from 8 to 22 degrees, delaying release of ephyrae (miniature jellyfish) until optimum environmental conditions are found. It has a wide distribution, even in the Atlantic Ocean.
The abundance of the species is affected by low rainfall, high temperature and high atmospheric pressure. A recent study, conducted in the Straits of Messina, has concluded that increasing sea temperatures in the Mediterranean will result invariably in more frequent blooming events for the species in future.
Photographs by Alain Salvary.