The repeated occurrence of jellyfish along Goa's coastline can affect the state's tourism industry in the long run. So states a presentation by NIO scientist Baban Ingole at a recent toxicology conference at the Goa Medical College, Bambolim.
Described as free-swimming marine animals, jellyfish are of two kinds-toxic and non-toxic. And while most jellyfish stings are harmless to humans and cause only a mild irritation, species like Box jellyfish and Blue bottle-spotted on Goa's beaches in 2010-are venomous and can harm humans.
"Those who come in contact with toxic jellyfish can die if not treated immediately," warned Ingole. "But more worrying is that Goa's coastal waters have developed the right environment for the growth of jellyfish."
He elaborated, "The temperature is just right; jetties and harbours are where the jellyfish take shelter; and they can survive in polluted conditions too."
Since they depend on tides and currents for movement and inevitably sting when they come in contact with humans, Ingole stressed that at jellyfish, at this rate, could pose a danger to Goa's tourism industry. "It is therefore important to identify and avoid them," he said.
Over the last few years jellyfish have been spotted along Goa's shores, though not consistently. Ingole further maintained that the threat jellyfish pose may have remained hidden so far only because there have been no serious cases of people affected. Worryingly, jellyfish eat the same food as fish, so less fish production-a threat looming in Goa's waters-means less competition for jellyfish, Ingole warned.
Elaborating on the species, the scientist explained that jellyfish are the most fragile and simple creatures in the oceans, with only 5% of their body mass made up of solid organic matter.
The venom apparatus consists of numerous nematocysts along the tentacles and oral arms. The venom is trapped within the nematocysts that appear like a capsule. Inside is a thread which is tightly coiled. Depending on the species of jellyfish, the number of nematocysts, their location and the toxicity of the venom vary, Ingole concluded. [TOI]