Tag: ‘Jellyfish’

Space caramel made from giant jellyfish

16 Sep 2009

In the latest move in Japan's war on giant jellyfish, high school students in the town of Obama have developed a new type of caramel candy made from the enormous sea creatures -- and they are offering it up as a snack for astronauts in space.

Echizen kurage, Nomura's jellyfish --
Nomura's jellyfish (Echizen kurage) -- If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em (in space)

The enterprising Obama Fisheries High School students have requested the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to place their chewy treat on the official menu for astronauts aboard the International Space Station. The space agency, which appears to be entertaining the proposal, is reportedly sending a representative to the school tomorrow (September 17) to evaluate the candy.

Described as having a sweet and salty flavor, the caramel's ingredients include sugar, starch syrup, and jellyfish powder, which is obtained by boiling the jellyfish down to a thick paste, drying it, and grinding it into fine particles. The most recent batch of caramel uses powder from Nomura's jellyfish snared last month in fixed fishing nets in nearby Wakasa Bay. The bay is located in Fukui prefecture, which has been among the areas hardest hit by the giant jellyfish swarms in recent years.

Students pose with caramel made from giant jellyfish -- The students began cooking with Nomura's jellyfish three years ago, after a NASA-designed food safety management system was installed at the school. In 2006, after the school developed a method for processing giant jellyfish into an edible powder, a local company began using it as an ingredient in their jellyfish cookies.

Since then, the students have been searching for new ways to use their jellyfish powder. They are hoping to benefit from the recent raw caramel craze sweeping Japan.

[Source: Chunichi]

Japan fears massive jellyfish invasion this year

01 Jul 2009

Japanese researchers monitoring the activity of giant jellyfish in Chinese waters are warning of a potentially historic and catastrophic invasion this year.

Marine surveys conducted in late June have revealed alarming numbers of Nomura's jellyfish -- massive creatures that grow up to 2 meters (6 ft 7 in) in diameter and weigh as much as to 220 kilograms (about 450 lbs) -- lurking in the Yellow Sea and East China Sea. The researchers warn that ocean currents may bring swarms of the monster jellies to Japan, which has been plagued by similar invasions in recent years.

Echizen jellyfish --
Nomura's jellyfish, 2007 (Photo: Sankei)

Based on what they have seen so far, the researchers warn this year's onslaught of Nomura's jellyfish (Nemopilema nomurai, or Echizen kurage in Japanese) could deliver a massive blow to Japan's fishing industry, rivaling even the devastating 2005 deluge that caused tens of billions of yen (hundreds of millions of dollars) in damage nationwide.

The surveys are being conducted by a team led by Shinichi Ue, a professor of biological oceanography at Hiroshima University who also chairs a government research committee tasked with developing technology to predict and control jellyfish explosions. Ue has been monitoring the population density of Nomura's jellyfish in the southern Yellow Sea and northern East China Sea since 2006.

Between June 20 and 24, 2009, Ue's team observed numerous specimens with umbrellas measuring 10 to 50 centimeters across, and they calculated an average distribution of 2.14 jellyfish per 100 square meters. This figure is more than 200 times higher than the 0.01 jellyfish per 100 square meters observed in the same region in 2008. It is also nearly triple the 0.77 jellyfish per 100 square meters observed in 2007, when the fishing industry in the Sea of Japan suffered widespread damage.

Echizen jellyfish --
Nomura's jellyfish, 2007 (Photo: Sankei)

To make matters worse, this year's swarms appear to be taking a more direct and southerly route to Japan, unlike in 2007 when the jellyfish appeared to take a more northerly route, approaching the Sea of Japan coast from the direction of Korea. According to the researchers, the ocean currents could bring unprecedented numbers of Nomura's jellyfish to Japan's Pacific coast, which typically sees far fewer of the monster blobs than the Sea of Japan coast.

Nomura's jellyfish typically bloom in Chinese waters in spring, and they mature into adults as ocean currents slowly carry them north. By July, when the first swarms reach Tsushima (just north of the southern island of Kyushu), many jellyfish are as large as sumo wrestlers. At this size, it only takes about 5 or 10 of them to destroy a commercial fishing net.

In addition to damaging nets, the giant jellyfish are blamed for killing other fish with their venom, lowering the quality and quantity of catches, increasing the risk of capsizing trawlers, and stinging fishermen.

In 2005, the fishing industry reported over 100,000 cases of jellyfish-related damage nationwide. At the peak of the invasion that year, an estimated 300 to 500 million monster jellyfish passed through the Tsushima Strait into the Sea of Japan each day.

[Source: Asahi]

Jellyfish Fantasy Hall (pics)

09 Apr 2009

Enter the Jellyfish Fantasy Hall at Enoshima Aquarium south of Tokyo and you will find yourself surrounded by dazzling swarms of gently pulsating creatures. Here's a look at a few of the species on display there.

Japanese sea nettle --
Japanese sea nettle [+]

Jellyfish, which have inhabited the world's oceans in one form or another for over one billion years, come in a dizzying array of shapes, sizes and colors. One species commonly found in Japanese coastal waters in spring and summer is the Japanese sea nettle (Chrysaora melanaster). When full grown, this jelly can reach up to 1 meter (3 ft) in length with an umbrella measuring 20 centimeters (8 in) in diameter.

Japanese sea nettle -- Japanese sea nettle --
Japanese sea nettle [+] // [+]

The Japanese sea nettle has a relatively strong toxin. If dried and ground into powder, the toxin can irritate the eyes and nose when scattered on the wind. Ninja used to use this jellyfish powder as a weapon, and even today the jellyfish is known in Japan as hakushon-kurage ("sneeze jellyfish").

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Pacific sea nettle --
Pacific sea nettle [+]

The Pacific sea nettle (Chrysaora fuscescens) is one of the world's largest jellyfish, with an umbrella that typically measures up to 50 centimeters wide and tentacles that stretch up to 2 meters (6.5 ft) in length. It has a moderate to severe sting that can cause welts to form.

Pacific sea nettle -- Pacific sea nettle --
Pacific sea nettle [+] // [+]

Found in the northwestern Pacific along the North American coast (and not in Japanese waters), this sea nettle has adapted to the cold California Current.

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Atlantic sea nettle --
Atlantic sea nettle [+]

The Atlantic sea nettle (Chrysaora quinquecirrha) is found in the Atlantic along the North American coast, and like its Pacific cousin, this jelly can inflict a nasty sting. Its semi-transparent body makes it difficult to spot -- a problem both for beachgoers and for the sea nettle's prey.

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Upside-down jellyfish --
Upside-down jellyfish [+]

The upside-down jellyfish (Cassiopea sp.), which has an umbrella that typically grows to about 20 centimeters (8 in) in diameter, is found in shallow waters from the tropics to the subtropics.

Upside-down jellyfish --
Upside-down jellyfish [+]

This jellyfish gets its name from the fact that it is usually seen upside-down on the sea floor, where it feeds on small plankton that drop down from above.

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Moon jellyfish --
Moon jelly [+]

The moon jelly (Aurelia aurita) is probably the world's most widely distributed jellyfish. It is quite commonly found along the shores of Japan. Although it is composed of more than 95% water, it has an amazing ability to quickly heal itself, even after severe injuries. The moon jelly typically grows to a length of 15 centimeters (6 in) from the top of the umbrella to tip of the tentacles, with a diameter of 30 centimeters (1 ft).

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Spotted jelly --
Spotted jellyfish [+]

The spotted jellyfish (Mastigias papua) has a brownish umbrella with white spots. With thick tentacles resembling the arms of an octopus, this creature is known in Japan as tako-kurage, or "octopus jellyfish." The spotted jellyfish gets its color from the algae that lives within its umbrella. This algae produces a type of sugar through photosynthesis that serves as a nutrient for this jellyfish.

Instead of one single mouth, the spotted jellyfish appears to have several smaller mouth openings in its oral arms.

Spotted jelly --
Spotted jellyfish [+]

Though mainly found in the southern Pacific Ocean, the spotted jellyfish is active in Japanese waters from summer to autumn. When full grown, this jellyfish measures about 50 centimeters (1 ft 8 in) from top to bottom and 15 centimeters (6 in) wide.

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Other species found in the Jellyfish Fantasy Hall include the blue jellyfish (Catostylus mosaicus), brownbanded moon jelly (Aurelia limbata), and Amakusa jellyfish (Sanderia malayensis).

Siphonophore: Deep-sea superorganism (video)

22 Dec 2008

Here is some video of a bioluminescent deep-sea siphonophore -- an eerily fantastic creature that appears to be a single, large organism, but which is actually a colony of numerous individual jellyfish-like animals that behave and function together as a single entity. The individual units, called zooids, all share the same genetic material, and each performs a specialized role within the colony. The best-known siphonophore is the poisonous Portuguese Man o' War (Physalia physalis), which lives at the surface of the ocean, unlike the one shown in this video (filmed at a depth of 770 meters). Some siphonophore species can grow up to 40 meters (130 ft) in length.

Red paper lantern medusa (video)

20 Oct 2008

Akachochin jellyfish, red paper lantern medusa --

Red paper lanterns, or aka-chochin, are a familiar sight on the city streets of Japan, where they typically hang at the entrances to cheap pubs, capturing the attention of passersby. The ocean, however, is home to a different variety of red paper lantern -- an unusual species of deep-sea jellyfish.

Officially named Pandea rubra, the red paper lantern medusa (aka-chochin kurage) was first discovered in the Bering Sea in 1913, but details about its distribution and life cycle have long remained a mystery. In recent years, the creature has caught the eye of researchers at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) armed with high-definition video cameras.

Using manned and unmanned submersibles, the researchers have collected over 100 hours of high-definition footage showing more than 60 specimens of the jellyfish in waters from northeastern Honshu to Okinawa, at depths ranging from 500 to 1,000 meters. Here is some raw video:

The red paper lantern medusa has a transparent, bell-shaped hood measuring about 10 centimeters in diameter and 17 centimeters from top to bottom, with between 14 and 30 tentacles that extend up to 6 times the length of its body. Inside the transparent hood is a deep red colored mantle that can crumple up or expand like a paper lantern, hence the name. JAMSTEC researcher Dr. Dhugal Lindsay is credited with coming up with the name.

The gelatinous creature is commonly found at depths of between 450 to 900 meters in warm and temperate waters around the world. Observations have been reported in the Antarctic Ocean, but never in the Arctic Ocean.

Akachochin jellyfish, red paper lantern medusa --

The JAMSTEC videos suggest that a variety of sea creatures regard the red paper lantern medusa as a safe place to establish temporary residence. In the video, the developing larvae of shrimp and sea spiders can be seen hitching extended rides on the jellyfish.

"We didn't expect to find such a variety of organisms attached to the jellyfish," said Dr. Dhugal Lindsay. "Humans apparently are not the only ones attracted to red paper lanterns."

[Source: Mainichi]

Return of the giant jellyfish

13 Nov 2007

Echizen kurage/ Nomura's jellyfish --

Echizen kurage/ Nomura's jellyfish --

To the delight of divers, and to the chagrin of fishermen, the swarms of giant Echizen kurage jellyfish (Nomura's jellyfish) that invade the coast of the Sea of Japan each autumn are back.

These photos were taken 5 meters underwater just offshore from the coastal town of Echizen in Fukui prefecture, where the jellyfish mobs began to arrive about a month later than normal.

Manabu Nakamata, a 38-year-old diver from Nagoya and an admirer of the monster jellyfish, says, "They are surprisingly hard to the touch. They are big, and extremely impressive." Big indeed -- Echizen kurage can grow up to 2 meters (6 ft. 7 in.) in diameter and weigh up to 200 kilograms (440 lb.) each.

The local fishermen, however, are not impressed. Each year, the giant jellyfish wreak havoc on the fishing industry by destroying nets and crushing, poisoning and sliming other fish in the catches. In the latest move in the war on jellyfish, Fukui prefecture is developing new and efficient weapons designed to pulverize those that threaten their shores.

[Source: Sankei]

Giant jellyfish eyed as commercial mucin source

05 Jun 2007

Echizen kurage, Nomura's jellyfish -- In the latest development in Japan's war against giant jellyfish invaders, scientists studying the biochemistry of echizen kurage (Nomura's jellyfish) have discovered a previously unknown type of mucin in the sea creatures.

Mucins, the main structural components of mucus, are complex proteins found in human saliva, gastric juice and the lining of the stomach, all of which play a key role in the digestive process. The recently discovered jellyfish mucin, according to the researchers from the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN) and science equipment manufacturer Shinwa Chemical Industries, can be put to use in a variety of pharmaceutical, medical, food and cosmetic products.

While the researchers have yet to release the details about the molecular structure of the jellyfish mucin, they claim it has a simple structure similar to a type of glycoprotein (organic molecule composed of protein and sugar chains) found in human digestive fluid, suggesting it could be used as a digestive supplement for elderly people with weak gastric juice. In addition, the researchers see potential uses for jellyfish mucin in products such as eyedrops, artificial saliva and surgical adhesives.

At least 12 types of mucins are known to exist in various locations in the human digestive tract, as well as in saliva and in the mammary glands. While mucins are also known to exist in animals and in some plants such as okra, lotus root and yams, only a few sources of the slimy substance have been tapped for large-scale commercial production.

To harvest the jellyfish, RIKEN says it is investigating the possibility of enlisting the help of Japan's fisheries to catch the giant echizen kurage, which can grow up to 2 meters (6 ft 7 in) in diameter and weigh up to 200 kg (440 lb) each. The group is also considering harvesting moon jellyfish, the culprits responsible for disrupting output at nuclear power plants last year after they clogged seawater coolant intake pipes.

Business negotiations are now underway between 20 organizations, including pharmaceutical companies, medical institutions and food and cosmetics manufacturers.

[Source: Fuji Sankei]

Cookies made from giant jellyfish

30 Oct 2006

Ekura-chan saku-saku cookies -- As part of an ongoing battle against invading swarms of giant jellyfish in local waters, some residents of Fukui prefecture have developed a method for converting the sea creatures into a powdered ingredient used in souvenir cookies.

Sold in boxes of 10, the jellyfish treats, called "Ekura-chan saku-saku cookies," can be purchased at JR Fukui station for 580 yen.

The key ingredient in the Fukui-area cookie maker's recipe is powder made from dried, ground jellyfish, which is produced using a process developed three years ago by students from Obama Fisheries High School. The bitter, salty flavor of the jellyfish is said to nicely complement the cookie's sweetness.

In recent years, swarms of Echizen kurage (Nomura?s jellyfish) have been invading the Sea of Japan each autumn, seriously disrupting fishing operations. The giant jellyfish can grow up to 2 meters wide and weigh up to 200 kilograms (450 lbs) each.

[Source: Mainichi Shimbun]

Jellyfish invasion in full swing

06 Oct 2006

Echizen kurage -- This crazy photo from the Yomiuri Shimbun shows a diver swimming amongst a swarm of giant jellyfish. These giant sea blobs, known as Echizen kurage (Nomura's jellyfish), inflict heavy damage on Japanese fisheries in the Sea of Japan each year.

This year's invasion appears to be in full swing. The number of jellyfish has risen dramatically off the coast of Maizuru in Kyoto prefecture since Typhoon No. 13 passed over the Sea of Japan in mid-September.

Thousands of the giant jellyfish, which can grow up to 2 meters (6 ft 7 in) in diameter and weigh up to 200 kg (440 lb), become caught in fixed fishing nets each year.

(See also: Chefs prepare for annual giant jellyfish invasion)

[Source: Yomiuri Shimbun]