So long humans.
And thanks for all the jellyfish.
If the oceans are indeed in steep decline, it may just be a triumph of the brainless -- namely, the humble jellyfish.
"The number of case studies is increasing," Lucas Brotz of the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre told the Huffington Post, "And it certainly seems we are having a severe impact on the oceans that is making them less favourable for fish and more favourable for jellyfish in some places."
So far, the most direct impact -- aside from swimming into a cloud of the critters -- is being felt at the world's nuclear reactor sites.
Remember that backed-up nuclear site in Sweden last week?
Oskarshamn, one of the world's biggest nuclear plants, had to shut down for days after the intake pipes were found to be completely clogged.
"We had a huge invasion of jellyfish," plant spokesman Torbjorn Larsson told the Wall Street Journal. "Our staff calculated over a tonnne."
More specifically, about a tonne of Moon jellyfish.
For climate change deniers, this may pack an extra sting. If the world's jellyfish are taking it to the top, we may have a lot to do with it.
The Moon variety, for example, despite being brainless, appears to have mastered the hostile takeover.
Their bodies are built for extremes, able to withstand temperatures as low as -6 degrees C and as high as 31, not to mention an uncanny ability to slow its respiratory system to a crawl in low-oxygen waters. With ocean temperatures on the rise, and "dead zones" of severely depleted oxygen emerging, the humble jellyfish is exactly the sort of lean, mean aquatic machine we may expect to see a lot more of in the post-oceanic Apocalypse.
"Warmer oceans can influence jellyfish in a number of ways, such as increasing their reproductive output, increasing survival, expanding their ranges, or allowing them to be around for longer," Brotz explains.
Now, factor in a human propensity for strip-fishing.
"Many of the regions where jellyfish populations appear to be increasing are heavily fished or overfished," Brotz says.
That leaves a lot of wide open sea for jellyfish. And, of course, a lot of havoc to be wreaked on the machinery of humankind.
In addition to Sweden's nuclear stutter, last year saw California's Diablo Canyon facility grind to a halt due to "a rapid influx of jellyfish."
The fishing industry knows this gelatinous tide all too well. In 2009, the crew of the Japanese fishing trawler, Diasan Shinsho-maru, got a close-up of the fridge-sized terror known as Nomura’s jellyfish. Their nets had become so laden with the giants -- each weighing around 200 kg. -- the entire vessel tipped over, hurling the anglers into the sea, The Telegraph reported.
Tne notorious box jellyfish reportedly claims the lives of between 20 and 40 people in the Philippines alone, according to the U.S. National Science Foundation.
Despite a recent rash of high-profile run-ins with humanity, it remains to be seen whether we're in the throes of a jellyfish uprising.
"The popular idea that jellyfish are increasing globally caught on quickly, and scientists are scrambling to catch up," marine biologist Rebecca Helm tells the Huffington Post. "We still don't know if there is in fact a global surge in jelly numbers. We are seeing localized increases in some areas."
But, she cautions, "We do not have a good baseline for what jelly populations were doing 100 years ago, this makes it difficult to determine if the fluctuations we're seeing today are the result of human activity, or a natural part of the jelly life cycle."
Although counting all the jellyfish in the ocean is a daunting and difficult task, their devastating impact on marine life -- and industry -- has come into sharp focus in recent years.
"There is a lot of uncertainty, due in part to the fact the fact that they have historically been ignored and understudied, as well as their very unique life cycles," Brotz explains.
But after surveying 45 marine ecosystems, Brotz found evidence of increases in 62 per cent of the regions studied.
Their emergence has prompted a stark warning, in a United Nations report, that jellyfish could own the world’s oceans in a "global regime shift from a fish to a jellyfish ocean.”
There are, of course, a few compelling reasons why jellyfish are so well-suited to inherit the seas.
Jellyfish will eat your lunch. From fish eggs to tiny plants, they can scour an ecosystem dry. And a herd of jellyfish, called a bloom, will 'eat almost everything in the water.' Needless to say, that doesn't leave much to dine on for the rest of the ocean's denizens.
“When an ecosystem is dominated by jellyfish, fish will mostly disappear,” Sun Song, director of China's Institute of Oceanology tells Environment360. “Once that happens,” he contends, “there is almost no method to deal with it.”
Few have a taste for jellyfish. And the creatures that do -- sea turtles, salmon and other culinary daredevils -- are in decline.
They have a Tribble's sense of spawning. Jellyfish essentially clone themselves -- creating tiny bundles, called polyps, that latch onto hard surfaces.
"When humans build structures in the oceans, such as marinas, wharves, breakwaters, aquaculture operations, oil rigs," Brotz explains, "They provide a massive amount of shaded structure. These structures may provide ideal habitat for jellyfish polyps, which then thrive and reproduce to create millions of baby jellyfish."
They laugh at death. In a rare effort to quell the tide of jellyfish, South Korean researchers built tiny Terminators, called JEROS, or Jellyfish Elimination Robotic Swarm.
Essentially sucking jellyfish to their doom through propellors, JEROS can mulch a reported 400 kg of jellyfish per hour.
As wholesale jellyfish shredders, JEROS certainly make for impressive video -- even if some YouTube commenters suggest they amount to medieval torture devices.
Trouble is JEROS may also be making fertilizer.
"Removing jellyfish -- either by humans or robots -- is not a true 'solution,'" Lucas Brotz says, "Because jellyfish polyps can persist in the environment and produce new jellyfish year after year."
And, pity the hapless swimmer, caught in that wave of mutilation.
"If you want to protect tourists from stings, this will make the problem worse, releasing all those tentacles to float independent of their bodies, getting through the smallest mesh," biologist Rebecca Helm notes.
Or, as Helm notes, humans could embrace the coming Jellageddon -- figuratively speaking, of course.
"Farming jellies is a lucrative business in some parts of the world."
Indeed, she notes that in the state of Georgia, 'jellyballing,' as it's called, has grown into a major fishery.
China appears to be diving right in, building a multi-billion-dollar industry out of edible jellyfish.
China is among the first countries to process jellyfish for human consumption, particularly the edible Rhopilema esculentum, and is developing a multi-million-dollar seafood business based on jellyfish.
"I think the best solution to the jelly problem some areas are facing," she adds. "Is to improve our ability to predict when and where they will occur, and plan accordingly."
Sperm-sniffing Police Dog
Police Dog Handler B-G Carlson with the sperm-sniffing dog Rapport's Opus, which collected evidence against a 23-year-old man who was charged with a rape. Credit: <a href="http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/article13335666.ab" target="_hplink">Aftonbladet</a>
Guru, the Hairless Chimp
Looking almost like a bronze statue of a person, Guru the hairless chimpanzee eats in his enclosure at India's Mysore Zoo. Guru lost all his hair to alopecia, a condition that can also affect humans.
This image provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department shows an alligator Thursday June 6, 2013 in Lancaster, Calif. Part of the "Zoo to You" program in Paso Robles that introduces kids to animals, the alligator was being held by two females near a van after the animal urinated inside the van and the females had stopped to clean the the van. (AP Photo/ Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department)
Miwa, a baby monkey, rides a young boar named Uribo in the Fukuchiyama City Zoo, in Kyoto, Japan, on Oct. 19. Both have been sheltered by the zoo since June after losing their mothers
Westies Doing Watersports
These hilarious pictures of Westie dogs doing water sports should cheer anyone up, whatever the weather. They are a newly-launched theme for handy iPhone app Weather Puppy, a weather app that comes free but lets you buy themes such as these side-splitting images of West Highland White Terrier. British publishers Maverick Arts are behind the wacky pictures and have used amazing image-manipulation skills to make it seem as if the dogs are indulging in adrenalin sports. Maverick MD Steve Bicknell explains: "We are obsessed with the weather here in the UK and I think our pictures of the Westies should cheer people up weather they are at a sunny beach or hiding from the rain."
Boy Finds Whale Vomit Worth $63,000
Charlie Naysmith, 8, found this hunk while walking on a beach in Great Britain. He thought it was a rock, but it turned out to be a piece of whale vomit worth $63,000.
Insect with Singing Penis
A small water boatman of the species <em>Micronecta scholtzi </em> is seen in this photo from the University of Strathclyde Glasgow. The insect has been found to use its penis to perform a very loud mating call. Scientists say the "singing penis" -- relative to its body size -- is the loudest animal on Earth.
Rebecca Reichart, Leroy Nunez, Nicholas Coutu, Claudia Grant, Kenneth Krysko
In an Aug. 10, 2012 photo provided by the University of Florida, Florida Museum of Natural History researchers, from left, Rebecca Reichart, Leroy Nunez, Nicholas Coutu, Claudia Grant and Kenneth Krysko examine the internal anatomy of the largest Burmese python found in Florida to date, on the University of Florida campus. The 17-foot-7-inch snake weighed 164 pounds and carried 87 eggs in its oviducts, a state record. Following scientific investigation, the snake will be mounted for exhibition at the museum for about five years, and then returned for exhibition at Everglades National Park. (AP Photo/University of Florida, Kristen Grace)
Mass For Animals -- Oct. 2011
Gil Florini, of Saint-Pierre-d'Arene's church, blesses donkeys with holy water after a mass dedicated to animals on Oct. 9, 2011, in the southeastern French city of Nice.
Police have released a photo of the culprit in a series of flag thefts from the graves of soldiers at the Cedar Park Cemetery in Hudson, NY. As you can see by the photo, it looks like they caught the thief in the act: This woodchuck right here in the middle of the screen.
At two weeks old, Beyonce, a Dachsund mix born at a Northern California animal shelter, is just under four inches long and is in the running for the title of World's Smallest Dog. Here she is pictured resting on an iPhone.
Kitler, a kitten small enough to fit in a cup with a remarkable resemblance to Hitler is looking for a home after being found abandoned at the side of a busy road. An animal charity is struggling to find a loving home for an abandoned kitten - because it looks like HITLER. The six-week-old moggie was found abandoned on her own by the side of a busy main road by a member of the public. She was handed in to Wood Green animal shelter in Godmanchester, Cambs., where staff nicknamed her 'Kitler' because of her distinctive black moustache. Nobody came forward to say they were Kitler's owner so the centre put her up for rehoming, but she is yet to find a loving family because of her unusual markings.
Elephant Polo -- Sept. 2011
Elephant polo players from the Spice girls team (left) and the British Airways British Army team battle it out for 5th place during the final day at the King's Cup Elephant polo tournament Sept. 11, 2011, in Hua Hin, Thailand.This year marked the 10th edition of the polo tournament with 12 international teams participating for the unusual annual charity sports event.
John Huntington poses with one of his chickens on a lead in Sydney, Australia, on Aug. 15, 2011. Mr Hungtington's 'City Chicks' are chickens for those living in an urban enviroment, complete with small walking leads and harnesses and elasticised nappies. 'City Chicks' will be showcased at Sydney's ABC Gardening Australia Expo.
An angler is celebrating after breaking the record for catching the world's biggest ever cod. The mighty fish weighed in at 103lbs, smashing the previous and long-held world record by nearly 5lbs. And the biggest specimen of Britain's favourite eating fish to be pulled out of the water by rod and line was caught by a German. Michael Eisele was on a fishing trip to Norway - the so-called El Dorado of cod fishing - when he snared the whopper.
Seal Pup Survivor
This little seal was nearly strangled to death when it got tangled up in a discarded G-string thong near the Lovers Leap Cliffs of New Zealand. Luckily, a passerby saw the panicked pup, and conservation workers were able to free the animal from the offending garment.
The U.S. attorneys office sued Heritage Auctions of Texas in June to force it to return a Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton to the Mongolian government.
This March 8, 2012 photo shows Nicole Andree feeding a hamburger to her dog, Prada, a 4-year-old pit bull mix, at an animal control facility in Nashville, Tenn. Andree is fighting a lengthy legal battle to save her dog's life after the animal was ordered euthanized for attacking other dogs.
Kitten Found In Car Engine
After driving about 85 miles to Santa Cruz, Calif., a man discovered that this runaway kitten had been inside his car's engine in March 2012.
Monkey Photographs Self
One of the photos that the monkey took with Davids camera. These are the chimp-ly marvellous images captured by a cheeky monkey after turning the tables on a photographer who left his camera unmanned. The inquisitive scamp playfully went to investigate the equipment before becoming fascinated with his own reflection in the lens. And it wasnt long before the crested black macaque hijacked the camera and started snapping away sending award-winning photographer David Slater bananas. David, from Coleford, Gloucestershire, was on a trip to a small national park north of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi when he met the incredibly friendly bunch.
Is it Elvis... or Bert from "Sesame Street"? This stink bug photographed in Singapore seems to be a fan of one of them -- but it's not clear which one.
World's Longest Snake In Captivity
Medusa, a 25-foot, two-inch Reticulated Python owned by Full Moon Productions in Kansas City, Missouri is the Longest Snake Ever in Captivity.
Space Alien Really A Baboon
This close-up of the head of the animal shown in the previous slide, was, according to a local veterinarian, a baby baboon photographed by park ranger Llewellyn Dixon. The animal was found near the South African resort town of Nature's Valley.
Britain's Saddest Puppy
Six-month-old puppy Princess has such delicate skin she can't go outside. While other dogs run free at Britain's Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary, Princess must gaze through the window. But this canine, otherwise known as Britain's Saddest Puppy, has become a minor celebrity in the media.
Animals In The News
Tha Sophat, a 20-month-old Cambodian boy, suckles from a cow in Koak Roka village, Siem Reap province, Cambodia, Friday, Sept. 9, 2011. Tha Sophat started suckling the cow in July after he saw a calf do the same since his parents moved to Thailand in search of work, said his grandfather UmOeung.
World's Smallest Cow
Swallow, an 11-year-old sheep-sized cow from the West Yorkshire region of England, is one of the stars of the 2011 edition of "Guinness World Records." This 33-inch-high Dexter is the world's smallest cow.
Skateboarding With Tillman
Tillman the skateboarding dog is always learning new tricks. The famed canine skater -- who is also an acclaimed surfer and snowboarder -- made an appearance at Madame Tussauds on the Las Vegas Strip on Sept. 16.
Tori, the Smoking Orangutan
Tori, a 15-year-old orangutan, holds a cigarette stub between her fingers inside her cage at Satwa Taru Jurug zoo in Solo, Central Java, Indonesia, Friday, July 6, 2012. Zookeepers said they plan to move Tori, who learned to smoke about a decade ago by imitating people, away from visitors who regularly throw lit cigarettes into her cage so they can watch and photograph her puffing away and exhaling smoke. (AP Photo)
Ranger Shoots Deers Whose Antlers Are Stuck
It was a shot in the dark, but an Illinois police officer manage to separate two whitetail deer whose antlers were tangled together -- by shooting them apart.
This is the moment two angry squirrels went head-to-head in a spectacular fight over food. The two red squirrels showed the lengths they will go to in order to protect their precious dinner as they can be seen charging at one another and scrapping in the sand as they viciously fought over a watermelon. One of the squirrels was enjoying his fruity snack in peace when he was approached by a brazen squirrel hoping to steal a bite of his meal.
Camel in the Family
Nathan Anderson-Dixon, his wife Charlotte, their 18-month-old son Reuben, Joe the camel and a reindeer.
Space Alien Is A Baboon
This is a close-up of the previous slide, which turned out to be a baby baboon found in South Africa on July 10, 2013.
This photo released by the New England Aquarium, in Boston Tuesday, July 24, 2012, shows a 21-pound lobster caught July 14 off Cape Cod, and donated to the aquarium where it will be displayed after a 30-quarantine period.
Parrot on Roller Skates
A parrot trained by Italian trainer Anthonie Zattu performs wearing a pair of rollerskates during the International Festival of Cirkus Art on Feb. 20, 2011, in Prague.
In art, there's primitivism and there's primate-vism. Meet Jimmy, a 26-year-old chimpanzee who can paint. Pictured while creating a painting on cardboard on Sept. 20 at a zoo in Niteroi, Brazil, the monkey's art works have caught the attention of zoological experts who plan a special exhibit for the chimp.
Camel in the Family
t's not every day you can say that a camel has shared your breakfast - unless you're Nathan and Charlotte Anderson-Dixon. Each morning they and their 18-month-son Reuben are joined by pet camel Joe, who pokes his head through their conservatory window to help himself to something to eat. The three-year-old happily munches eats bread, fruit and cereal plucked from the table at the family's detached country farmhouse. Joe, who measures 17.5 hands, loves bananas on toast but hates toast with cheese or Marmite. He lives with four other camels but is the only one to share breakfast with his owners. The others have to eat hay, barley, straw and corn mix in their stable in Ashbourne, Derbyshire. Nathan, 32, has owned Joe for two years and uses him for camel racing.
Baby Raccoon Stuck In Sewer
A baby raccoon that got stuck head-first in a sewer grate is free thanks to the quick and slippery work of some city workers in suburban Detroit. A release from Dearborn Heights says the crew took the raccoon to the Public Works yard for a "much-needed shower" before letting it go in the woods.
World's Longest Cat
Robin Henderson stretches her cat, Stewie, outside of her home in Reno, Nev. Stewie, a 5-year-old Maine Coon, has been accepted by Guinness World Records as the world's longest cat at 48.5 inches long. Unfortunately, Stewie passed away in February, 2013. He was 8.
Taxidermied Squirrel -- Dec. 2011
Rick Nadeau has saved up quite a nut by creating taxidermied squirrels that he puts in unusual outfits. He sells his works starting at $65 all the way up to $200.
Kayaker Snags Shark -- Sept. 2011
This is the jaw-dropping moment a canoeist landed a 6-foot shark after it dragged him through the water for 10 minutes. Brave Rupert Kirkwood, 51, had paddled a mile off the United Kingdom's Devon coast when he suddenly felt a snag on his line. The 70-pound beast nearly pulled him overboard, before pulling his 16-foot canoe through the water as he desperately clung on. After 10 minutes of wrestling with the beast, he eventually hauled the massive fish on board.
Dogs Behind The Wheel
The New Zealand SPCA taught dogs to drive as part of a campaign meant to demonstrate the intelligence or rescue dogs and boost adoption rates. Yes, these dogs are actually driving cars. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/05/dogs-driving-cars-new-zealand-spca_n_2244476.html" target="_hplink">Read the whole story here.</a>
Li Zhiwei, a forestry worker in China, discovered this 19-inch earthworm in a gutter near his house. He plans to raise it as a pet.
Trouble, The Millionaire Dog
Hotel magnate Leona Helmsley left $12 million for her dog Trouble when she died in 2007, but a judge reduced the bequest to $2 million.
Of course she's unhappy. Who likes getting weighed right after the holidays? This is Agathe, a cane toad, and she's sitting on a toy scale during an annual animal inventory at the Hanover Zoo in Germany on Jan. 5. Agathe weighs a slight hop over 4 pounds.
This is a lamb in China that looks just like a dog. Farmers in Fugu County, in western China's Shaanxi Province, were left open-mouthed when they saw the young animal running around their field. The lamb has a mouth, nose, paws and tail which look very similar to a dog's features - but still has a white woolly coat.
Elephant with Prosthetic Leg
Motala, age 50, rests in the afternoon sun with the new prosthetic made for her at the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) elephant hospital in the Mae Yao National Reserve August 29, 2011 Lampang,Thailand. Motala lost a foot many years back after stepping on a land mine and now is on her third prosthetic, as they need to be changed according to the weight of the elephant. The world's first elephant hospital assists in medical care and helps to promote a better understanding of the elephant's physiology, important in treating them for illness. For generations elephants have been a part of the Thai culture, although today the Thai elephant mostly is domesticated animal, since Thailand now has few working elephants. Many are used in the tourism sector at special elephant parks or zoos, where they perform in shows. In some cases Thailand is still deals with roaming elephants on the city streets, usually after the mahout, an elephant driver, becomes unemployed, which often causes the elephant serious stress.
Gorilla With Toothache
Two Bay Area dentists made a house call at the San Francisco Zoo on Monday, July 11, to help out a gorilla with a toothache. Dentist Dan Mairani (left) and endodontist Steve Holifield, who usually perform procedures on human patients, worked for three hours on Oscar Jonesy (O.J.), a 30-year-old male western lowland gorilla that developed an abscessed canine tooth. Thanks to this dental team, the abscess was successfully treated and the tooth was saved!
Crocodile in Belgium -- Dec. 2011
A man holds a crocodile with tape around its mouth, as workers from the Natuurhulpcentrum, a wildlife rehabilitation center, collect several crocodiles at a villa in Lapscheure, near the Dutch border, on Dec. 22, 2011. Police discovered eleven Nile crocodiles and one alligator (all alive) in a villa rented by a German man, Rolf D., during an investigation into financial fraud.
This Little PIggie Has Two Snouts
This tiny porker has an excuse for making a pig of himself at mealtimes. He really does have two mouths to feed. The bizarre two-month-old youngster -- part of a litter born on a farm in northern China -- can use both his mouths to eat and appears otherwise normal, say his owners.
Lucy: World's Smallest Working Dog -- Nov. 2011
Lucy, a mini Yorkshire terrier from Absecon, New Jersey, is now in the Guinness Book of World Records. Weighing just 2 1/2 pounds, Lucy was named the world's smallest working dog last week, bumping out a 6.6-pound police dog in Japan.