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Beware of Jellyfish on a Full Moon

It is a misery to go swimming in the Mediterranean during the summer when masses of jellyfish with stinging tentacles invade Israel’s coast. Now, reports that an Israeli scientist from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management at the University of Haifa says that he discovered a new way to track and predict the incoming swarms: when the sea temperature ranges between 28.2 and 30 degrees Celsius and a full moon rises.

“We discovered that the most significant swarms arrive under the above conditions, the proof being that in such periods the number of blockages of the Electric Company’s cooling facilities due to jellyfish have been incomparably greater than during other periods of the year,” said Avi Algazi, who works in the system management unit of the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) and who conducted the research for his master’s degree.

Jellyfish have caused havoc at Israel’s five power stations on the coast that use Mediterranean seawater to cool the steam condensers. Until now, researchers were not sure what factors led to the massive swarms of jellyfish.

Algazi found that 94 percent of the swarms occurred approximately 176 days into the year, during June and July, and during the second and third weeks of the Hebrew month – when the moon ranges from almost full to full, and when seawater temperature ranges between 28.2 to 30.0 degrees Celsius.

Algazi said, “We knew the moon has a big influence on a lot of things but we didn’t so far have statistical data on the correlation between jellyfish and the moon.”

He said occurrences of jellyfish outside of this temperature range and during other stages of the moon were infrequent, but he hopes his “results could be checked in other parts of the world” to verify if they are correct globally.


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