This past fall, a little known Jellyfish called the Australian white spotted jellyfish or Phyllorhiza punctata was found off the coast of San Diego...
Normally seen off the coast of Australia, this was a bit strange.
It was also strange when they invaded the Gulf of Mexico in 2000, and again in 2007...
Apparently, Jellyfish can 'cling' to boats and other vessels to transport themselves into new regions. This is how they sprang up out of no where outside of San Diego, and how they populated the Gulf. Due to their behavior, and lack of heart, brain, and pretty much everything else we define as intelligent, Jellyfish can adapt and survive in any environment. They thrive in the most extreme conditions such as near underwater volcanoes or in the arctic ocean. Jellyfish as a species are remarkable but they are also a symbol of a devastating change in our oceans. As we all know, pollution, climate change, oil spills, etc. are causing a major shift in ecosystems around the world, and even creating dead zones in the ocean. But for Jellyfish--- Dead zones are paradise:
"Dead Zones are huge swaths of deep ocean that are ultra-polluted and oxygen starved. Unable to breathe in Dead Zones, most sea creatures, such as fish and shellfish, either flee or die. But jellyfish thrive in Dead Zones. How? By playing unique metabolic tricks.
Dangerous little Jellyfish...
I personally find them beautiful, as they dance through the water, up and down with grace and poise. But, they are deadly... Some Jellyfish like the Box Jellyfish can instantly (okay in minutes..) kill you with their stings. And if that's not bad enough, jellyfish can wipe out the bottom layer of an ecosystem. They are opportunists and will eat everything from plankton to small fish. Even large ones, leaving no creature to survive to adulthood to then reproduce. Leaving only Jellyfish to survive. Beautiful but dangerous.
Recently, the idea that Jellyfish represent a negative change in our oceans has resonated with me. If only jellyfish can survive what climate change, pollution, etc. is doing to our oceans-- then mass swarms of jellyfish are not only beautiful -- but dangerous. And it got me thinking, that perhaps an invasion of Jellyfish is what we need to pull our climate change talks into action.. or maybe I just like painting jellyfish.. but it has gotten me thinking about a new series -- an invasion of jellyfish - unmasking the beauty and revealing the danger. So I've been working on some sketches and miniature paintings of jellyfish in preparation for large enormous over-sized jellyfish, to symbolize just how dangerous a jellyfish, or a group, can be.
Here are some of these sketches...