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Rise of the jellyfish

There was an odd sight recently as a jellyfish invasion was spotted on the beaches of Monaco. However, it would seem these creatures are harmless and their yearly appearance is quite normal.

A surprise turned to panic for some. On a recent morning one could see the Monegasque beaches bordered by a bluish and repulsive mass. The origin: the barquettesde la Saint-Jean, a type of jellyfish that runs aground at this time of year on the coasts of the French Riviera. It is a recurrent episode in local maritime life, but which has been misinterpreted in the current context. Indeed, since the extension work at sea has begun recently, several residents have imagined that there was a link between these projects and the shapeless mass invading the beaches of Larvotto. A dozen complainants have contacted Bouygues, the company in charge of the works, to question them about this situation.

“We immediately sent a team to the site to check. We had to be sure,” said Oriana Charles-Castelli, project environment manager.

A life-size test

These stranded animals have also deceived the company’s control systems: “We measure water turbidity with instruments, to know how disturbed the sea is. This natural opportunity showed us that they worked well.” Finally this is a life-size test, provided by…Mother Nature herself.


“A spectacle of nature”

Pierre Gilles is an expert on underwater life at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. The specialist insists on the “natural character of this phenomenon. Like the Earth, the oceans have their seasons and spring corresponds to an explosion of the underwater population, a bloom. These jellyfish do not escape the rule. What distinguishes them is their little veil over their head which serves as a means of transport, but they are incapable of directing themselves! The wind, added to the bloom of spring, causes many specimens to run aground on the beaches at this time of year. It must be seen as a biological soup, a spectacle of these jewels of nature. The fact is that when one does not know, one tends to panic for nothing.”

Thus, though for many this is an unpleasant jellyfish invasion on the local beaches, it is clearly a brief moment of nature taking its course.

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