Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The annual cull?

 The Spot the Jellyfish campaign announced that annual fried egg jellyfish migration has hit Malta again.
Hundreds of the Cotylorhiza tuberculata have been spotted and reported by the public, especially around Comino, the north coast of Gozo, Wied iz-Zurrieq and Marsascala. Testimony to the precise timing of the occurrence of the fried egg jellyfish swarms, the species is also known in Maltese as tal-lampuki in reference to the dolphin fish, which is caught at this time of year. It is also known as the qassata, a traditional Maltese pastry. Despite its size, the fried egg jellyfish is innocuous and its occurrence is short-lived, normally extending till the start of October at most.
Last year, thousands of the creatures were fished out of the water by boaters and bathers alike, who feared that they might be stung by the qassata, as it is known locally. The truth is that these creatures do not sting and are benign. Their stingers do not aggravate human skin and they are harmless.
Interestingly enough, juveniles of mackerel are frequently observed sheltering amongst the purple-tipped tentacles of the jellyfish. According to the Jellyfish Campaign (, the size of fried egg jellyfish are nowhere near the staggering dimensions of those observed in September of last year. Sightings of the fried egg jellyfish received so far make up 5 per cent of the over 300 jellyfish sightings reports received so far.
Underwater, these beautiful creatures are bright yellow with vivid purple spots on them. They are quite harmless and you can actually handle them with minimal risk. But hundreds and thousands of them were fished out of the water, looking like brown lumps of goo. And this is human nature. People look at these creatures and automatically assume the worst – we kill first and ask questions later with the usual “Oh my how ugly it is”. Don’t kill them. They are harmless.

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