Some may think jellyfish are simply a pesky problem when we want to take a swim or snorkel, but they are actually a sign of flagging oceanic health. We think of them as the canary in the coal mine. The difference is the canary dies when there is a problem, but jellyfish flourish in the conditions that global warming wreaks on our oceans.
Climate change heats and acidifies the planet’s oceans. Overfishing adds to the first two major problems. All three contribute to creating an ideal environment for jellyfish to thrive and multiply. So what’s the big deal if there are too many jellyfish?
The issue is that jellyfish take a bad situation and make it worse. They have a unique trait where they’re able to eat up the food chain. This is surprising considering these sea creatures don’t even have brains. However, they actually can consume animals that are bigger, smarter and faster than they are. They damage the ecosystem further by competing with large mammals, such as whales, by feeding on the same fish and plankton that these other animals need to survive.
Marine expert Lisa-ann Gershwin wrote the new book Stung! On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean. She points to an example where jellyfish wiped out an entire food chain simply by eating from the bottom up.
The jellyfish species Mnemiopsis leidyi was accidentally introduced into the Black Sea in the early 1980s. In just a few short years, these jellyfish comprised “95 per cent of the biomass in the Black Sea”. This means “ninety-five per cent of every living thing was this one species of jellyfish”.
Jellyfish could rule our planet’s oceans as they once did in the Precambrian era. A time when biodiversity was low, the jellyfish commanded the oceans, and mammals and reptiles did not exist. This is a scary eventuality, that our feet are firmly planted on the path towards. We need to heed the warnings that these gelatinous invertebrates provide and begin seriously reducing our carbon footprints and offsetting the rest of our carbon emissions.
Ecotourism continues to grow in popularity as environmentally-conscious travelers seek out adventures to natural environments while minimizing the negative ecological impacts of their trips. The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) has defined ecotourism as "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people." New Carbonfund.org partner Quasar Expeditions offers eco-travel adventures through the unique ecosystems of Patagonia, while ensuring that all on-the-ground tour emissions are measured and mitigated through Carbonfund.org.
In order to uphold their commitment to environmentally sustainable tour operations, Quasar Expeditions chose to partner with Carbonfund.org to calculate the emissions generated by each tour vehicle then mitigate those emissions by supporting reforestation and bio-diversity preservation projects around the world.
“Our recent partnership with Carbonfund.org is a big step for Quasar Expeditions in making yet another positive contribution to conservation and sustainable tourism,” explains Fernando Diez, Director of Marketing and E-Commerce. “Although our adventures are methodically designed to leave very light footprints, we know that there is always some environmental impact, so we are now happy to be offsetting our carbon emissions through Carbonfund.org.”
When planning ecotourism excursions, it’s incumbent upon travelers to carefully review and seek out tour providers that are implementing sustainability practices to limit the environmental impact on the fragile habitats they visit. Eco-tour related emissions may be unavoidable, but measurement, reduction and neutralization of these emissions is a key component to maintaining responsible travel options while fighting the negative impacts of climate change.