Important concentrations of specimens from the Pelagia noctiluca species can be found in some areas of Cabrera Port, Cala Santa Maria and Cala Gandulf but also in other deeper areas of the Emile Baudot Bank, thirty miles south of Cabrera, one of the Balea
Oceana divers, working in the Cabrera Marine Park to document and record the state of the ecological communities and in surrounding areas, came across large concentrations of jellyfish in the northeastern-facing coves of the archipelago. Thousands of jellyfish of the Pelagia noctiluca species were filmed and photographed by Oceana as they moved within park waters or were concentrated by the currents in closed areas, such as the coves or the port of Cabrera itself. Especially high concentrations of this particular species have wreaked havoc off Mediterranean coasts in the past years.
An unmanned submarine robot, guided from the deck of the Oceana Ranger research catamaran, showed the existence of large concentrations of these animals at 130 meters depth, on the seamount known as the Emile Baudot Bank or Port d’es Francés thirty miles south of the Cabrera archipelago. Oceana is trying to promote the protection of this area and have it included within the area of the National Park.
According to biologist Xavier Pastor, director of the Oceana Ranger expedition, the presence of the jellyfish in Cabrera does not put into question the quality of the waters in this area nor the management of the area itself. “The jellyfish have been swept to Cabrera like they may be swept to any other place on the coast. In fact, Cabrera is probably in a better position to naturally counterbalance the proliferation of these animals than other coastal areas because its marine biodiversity is currently in a recovery stage after the area was designated National Park.”
Pastor declares that, during the past weeks, the team of scientists onboard the Oceana Ranger have also documented concentrations of jellyfish in other areas of the western Mediterranean, such as the archipelago of the Aeolian Islands, north of Sicily.
“This is not a local problem –explains Pastor—the jellyfish are running out of enemies due to an increase in water temperature caused by climate change, the overexploitation of fishing resources and the voluntary and incidental capture of jellyfish predators. Furthermore, various other factors combine to provide the jellyfish with an ideal environment for their reproduction, such as a decrease in fish stocks of small pelagic species that compete with them for food, an increase in contamination caused by agricultural and residual urban runoff causing an increase in plankton reproduction, and the decrease of the contribution of fresh water to the coast. Only by addressing all of these factors simultaneously will it be possible, in the medium term, for natural factors to help jellyfish populations return to the state they were in when they were controlled.”
The director of Oceana stated that his organisation is willing to collaborate in the jellyfish public awareness campaign designed by the Ministry of the Environment. For this reason, the Oceana Ranger crew, sailing mainly in Spanish waters throughout the year, will inform the Ministry and the Autonomous Communities about the especially important concentrations of jellyfish they encounter during their expeditions.
Oceana has provided the Coastal Directorate General of the Ministry of the Environment and the Environmental Council of the Government of the Balearic Islands with information and images regarding the proliferation of these animals in the Cabrera National Park and the Emile Baudot Bank.