Haifa - Ghostly swarms of jellyfish along Israel's coast have banished summer bathers from the Mediterranean waters and raised warnings about the dangers of ecological imbalance due to climate change.
Beyond stinging swimmers and costing the country about $10-million a year in lost tourism, the translucent invertebrates have also been clogging desalination plants and industrial fishing nets as their seasonal numbers grow, authorities say.
"The water gets hotter and hotter and we can see more and more jellyfish," Guy Lavian, a marine ranger with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, told Reuters.
"They cause real damage here. You can definitely say that global warming contributes to these massive swarms."
The jellyfish, which flourish at higher temperatures, compete for food and habitats with other sea life. Overfishing has helped skew that contest in their favour, according to the Israel Society of Ecology and Environmental Sciences (ISEES).
So does the Suez Canal, a 150-year-old artificial Egyptian channel that has allowed invasive species to travel from the Red Sea to the Mediterreanean Sea, where there now 17 kinds of jellyfish, most of them non-venomous, the ISEES said.
It added that off-shore leaks of agricultural fertilizers have also served as nourishment for the jellyfish.