Posted : 2013-08-15 19:48
Updated : 2013-08-15 19:48

Jellyfish bloom calls for caution

Busan city officials and local fishermen catch jellyfish in a net at Mipo Port in Busan, Wednesday, after an increasing number of jellyfish appeared along the coast, becoming a threat for local fishermen and tourists. / Yonhap

By Nam Hyun-woo

The ongoing heat wave is bringing an increasing number of jellyfish to coastal waters this summer and swimmers and those playing along the beaches are being advised to take extra care.

With the increase, the number of swimmers stung by the jellyfish stood at 1,050 nationwide as of Aug. 13, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries and the Korea Coast Guard.

Most victims were initially reported along the eastern coast of the country. But over 150 people were treated over the last weekend alone on the island of Jeju, showing the jellyfish boom is spreading to southern waters.

The 2013 figures compare with a total of 2,039 incidents the previous year. In addition, the jellyfish this year are more venomous, according to the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI).

There are 31 species of jellyfish that usually appear along the coastlines around the Korean Peninsula, the institute said. Among them, seven species, including the cannonball jellyfish, have especially dangerous stings.

In August last year, an 8-year-old girl died after being stung on her legs and hands by a cannonball jellyfish. The dangerous jellifish usually travel through the waters around Korea from June to December.

Jellyfish lingering around Jeju Island resemble carybdea rastoni, a smaller species which is also usually seen in eastern coasts.

Officials at the NFRDI are warning beachgoers to be cautious and to go to the nearest hospital if stung.

"Climate change and extreme heat are believed to be the cause of the influx around Jeju Island. The NFRDI has sent a research team there to track them as well as study where the jellyfish were coming from," said an official.

Jellyfish blooms are an issue for many countries. Not only Korea but also other countries have been battling rising numbers.

Korea has tried various countermeasures, but no innovative or totally effective measure has been come up with.

In recent years, releasing filefish ― a predator of jellyfish ― has emerged as one method. However, the two prefer different water temperatures.

Han Chang-hoon, a research fellow at the NFRDI said, "It will be impossible to get rid of all jellyfish from the waters. Concentrating efforts near beaches or using ocean pens could be more effective."

관련 한글 기사

전북 서해안에 '해파리떼 주의보'

폭염에 따른 수온상승으로 전북 도내 서해안에 해파리떼가 출현해 피해가 우려된다.

전북도수산기술연구소는 '연일 계속되는 찜통더위로 '노무라입깃해파리'가 남해안 및 서해안으로 북상하는 만큼 어민과 피서객은 피해를 보지 않도록 주의해달라'고 15일 당부했다.

해파리는 2009년 이후 매년 연근해에 대량으로 출현해 어구를 파손하거나 해수욕객을 쏘는 등의 피해를 주고 있다.

실제로 국립수산과학원이 지난 5월 서해 중부와 동중국해 북부에 걸쳐 독성이 강한 노무라입깃해파리 출현 실태를 조사한 결과 작년보다 개체 수가 무려 20여 배나 증가했다.

수산기술연구소의 한 관계자는 '해파리 모니터링를 강화하는 등 피해를 최소화 하기위해 노력하고 있다'면서 '해파리는 해수온이 낮아지는 10월 이후 세력이 약화할 것으로 전망된다'고 설명했다.

그는 '해파리에 쏘이면 만지거나 문지르지 말고 바로 밖으로 나와 바닷물 또는 식염수로 충분히 세척한 다음 남아있는 촉수를 핀셋 또는 카드 등으로 제거해야 한다'고 당부했다.

노무라입깃해파리는 연근해에서 발견되는 해파리 중 가장 큰 대형종으로, 큰 것은 갓의 직경이 2m, 무게가 200㎏에 달한다.

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