Photo by nurpax via Flickr CC
You could say it was the jellyfish, or you could say it was the overzealous fishermen on board. While trying to haul in a catch of several dozen giant Nomura's jellyfish - one of the largest in the world - a Japanese fishing trawler tipped right over. According to the Telegraph, "The crew of the fishing boat was thrown into the sea when the vessel capsized, but the three men were rescued by another trawler, according to the Mainichi newspaper. The local Coast Guard office reported that the weather was clear and the sea was calm at the time of the accident."
It's no wonder only a few dozen could capsize a boat. Each jellyfish can weigh as much as 450 pounds. This year has seen a big spike in the numbers of these giant jellies, with a similar population boom not occurring since 2005, when the large numbers of jellyfish and their stinging tentacles ruined fishing nets and made catches of fish inedible. Both ideal weather conditions and a smaller number of predators, such as sea turtles and certain fish species have helped the jelly populations grow this year.
Check out the size of these things next to divers:
While they don't make that great of a meal, fishermen might as well catch what is plentiful and edible - and these certainly fit that bill. In the effort to make something tasty out of the abundant creatures, even high school students are putting their heads into it, making caramel candies out of them...which they'd like to feed to astronauts. Giant jellies invading Japanese water, capsizing boats, and becoming food for space travelers...sound like a teen sci fi book to anyone else?
Even though it might be possible to make something yummy from them, catching them isn't exactly fun. In 2007, there was a grand total of about 15,500 reports of fishing equipment damaged by the Nomura's jellyfish. Add a 10-ton trawler to the list of ruined equipment to this year's reports.