Origins of the Medusa: study examines Israel’s summer jellyfish

i24NEWS

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A young boy plays with a dead jellyfish on the beach of Ashkelon, Israel, July 06, 2013.
Flash 90A young boy plays with a dead jellyfish on the beach of Ashkelon, Israel, July 06, 2013.

Israeli beach bathers know to be careful of the stinging creatures during the warm summer months

A recent study from Israel’s Haifa University shed light on the origins of one of the country’s least popular summer visitors - the ubiquitous jellyfish that litter beaches, just as bathers are looking for a cool dip. 

Beaches on the eastern side of Egypt’s Nile Delta are home to the stinging gelatinous blobs, the research published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science suggests.

The research was co-written by Dr. Dor Adelist,whose studies focus on invasive species in marine environments, and who admitted that his “hobby and obsession” is jellyfish - named in Hebrew after the ancient Greek monster, Medusa.  

Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90
Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90Israelis enjoy the beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 30, 2022.

“The complex life cycle of jellyfish makes tracking their origins a challenging task,” Adelist said, as reported by The Jerusalem Post. 

But using tools such as genetic testing and the observations of ‘citizen scientists’ the researchers were able to conclude that the nutrient-rich floor of the Nile estuary acted as a crucial location for the jellyfish’s young. 

Despite having roamed the world’s oceans for more than 500 million years, relatively little is known about the life cycles of jellyfish, including much about their reproduction habits. 

But the new research suggests that the reason Israel’s beaches are inundated with adult jellyfish during the summer is the release of juveniles into the warming water around the Nile Delta in April. Giving the Mediterranean creatures the time to feed, grow and swim north before arriving on the sands of Tel Aviv and Haifa. 

The timing of when jellyfish hit Israel's beaches has been the subject of study previously.

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