Huge hordes of jellyfish spotted swarming around Haifa

Video showed untold thousands of jellyfish dotting the waters around Haifa as far as the eye can see.

 A huge swarm of jellyfish is seen as far as the eye can see in the Haifa Bay off the coast of Israel, on July 20, 2022. (photo credit: Rotem Sadeh/Nature and Parks Authority)
A huge swarm of jellyfish is seen as far as the eye can see in the Haifa Bay off the coast of Israel, on July 20, 2022.
(photo credit: Rotem Sadeh/Nature and Parks Authority)

A massive infestation of jellyfish has been spotted off the coast of the city of Haifa in northern Israel.

Video shared on social media by Israel's Nature and Parks Authority shows the area around a boat in the waters of the Haifa Bay being absolutely filled with jellyfish, to the extent that the sea is essentially bedazzled with thousands of white dots.

According to the authority, the large swarms were also dense, spotted a few hundred meters deep underwater.

Jellyfish in Israel: A stinging surprise in the sea

Jellyfish are no strangers on Israel's beaches, with large numbers being spotted every year throughout the coast.

This is especially evident in the summer, when they tend to frequent the coastal waters in massive numbers.

They are so frequent, in fact, that an interactive map is available on the Meduzot Ba'am (jellyfish in the nation) site, available at www.meduzot.co.il, where it's possible to see which beaches have jellyfish and which don't.

 Large jellyfish are seen in the waters off the coast of Israel (Illustrative). (credit: OMRI OMSI / ISRAEL NATURE AND PARKS AUTHORITY) Large jellyfish are seen in the waters off the coast of Israel (Illustrative). (credit: OMRI OMSI / ISRAEL NATURE AND PARKS AUTHORITY)

But the current wave seen in Haifa seems to have reached new levels of jellyfish saturation, though the Nature and Parks Authority say they don't know for sure how bad this is.

Still, this isn't the first time they've been in Israel this year.

Back in late June, Dr. Gur Mizrachi from the University of Haifa's Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences noticed while on an airplane a huge and dense swarm of jellyfish off the coast of Ashkelon. But it wasn't that big of a swarm yet, and was still growing.

It is unclear if swarms the size of those in 2015 and 2017 will reach our shores.

According to marine ecologist Dr. Dor Edelist from the University of Haifa's Dror Angel Laboratory, the jellyfish will likely be gone around early August.

Why are they here?

There are a number of reasons why jellyfish tend to migrate to Israel around this time of year, and part of it is just routine. But there are other factors to consider, especially ones that are the result of humans.

According to the Nature and Parks Authority, some of the manmade actions that could contribute to the large influx of jellyfish include climate change, sewage polluting the waters and harm to the population of some of their natural predators like sea turtles and sunfish. 

Regarding where exactly Israel's jellyfish come from, that was revealed in a recent study by the University of Haifa, which reported that they seem to originate from the eastern side of the Nile River Delta in Egypt, though not from the river itself. These jellyfish can be found all over the eastern Mediterranean Sea, not just in Israel.

There are a wide number of different jellyfish species in Israel, but the most common is the nomad, an invasive species in the region originating from the Indian and Pacific oceans that came via the Suez Canal.

 A large jellyfish is seen in the water off the coast of Israel (illustrative). (credit: OMRI OMSI / ISRAEL NATURE AND PARKS AUTHORITY) A large jellyfish is seen in the water off the coast of Israel (illustrative). (credit: OMRI OMSI / ISRAEL NATURE AND PARKS AUTHORITY)
Can jellyfish be dangerous?

It depends. The short answer is yes, as they are infamous for their stingers that can be painful and in some cases  life threatening or fatal

The long answer is that it depends.

Many types of jellyfish are absolutely harmless, lacking tentacles that can sting or lacking stingers at all. As such, they can simply be an odd and sometimes even beautiful sight to see in the water. 

On their own, they aren't dangerous at all, though the jellyfish that are dangerous are another story, and beachgoers should be careful not to get stung, especially not far out in the water.

Further, it should be noted that the jellyfish that frequent Israel cannot kill someone with their stingers, though getting stung by one while swimming and very far out in the water could still be dangerous, as a swimmer could be incapacitated.

But jellyfish can also pose other dangers beyond stinging.

Jellyfish waves can cause damage to the environment because they pose competition for other marine life. 

They can also cause economic damage. 

According to the Nature and Parks Authority, jellyfish could clog the pumps at desalination plants and even the cooling areas at power plants, such as the one in Hadera.

Further, due to their presence in the water, not only are swimmers and beachgoers at risk of being harmed but so are fishermen.

The authority stressed the need to find a way to minimize the problem – something that will need creative thinking and a pooling of considerable resources for the necessary research.

If you do get stung by a jellyfish, you should make sure to identify the burn and wash the area with seawater or vinegar - the latter of which should be available in lifeguard huts at beaches, as noted by Magen David Adom (MDA). However, if stung in the eyes, only use seawater and not vinegar.

Alden Tabac, Judy Siegel-Itzkovich and Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.