China launched its first homegrown aircraft carrier earlier this year in a ceremony filled with patriotic pomp as state media celebrated the country’s growing naval power and technological mastery. However, before it can take on the US for sea supremacy, China must first deal with another formidable adversary.
Swarms of jellyfish are teeming in the waters off the coast of China, particularly in the Yellow Sea, where they are proving to be a nuisance for Chinese warships. The marine invertebrates are being sucked up into the ships’ systems, clogging up cooling pipes and causing the ships to overheat. Enough jellyfish sludge can even bring an aircraft carrier to a halt.
To address this sticky issue, Chinese researchers are currently working on what the South China Morning Post colorfully calls the “jellyfish shredder” — a massive net with sharp blades that is towed along by a boat, bringing jellyfish to the surface before slicing them up into tiny pieces which no longer pose a threat to Chinese warships.
As you can imagine, this method is not exactly ideal. For one thing, the “jellyfish shredder” doesn’t only shred jellyfish, but also any other marine life unlucky enough to be near the surface as the ship goes by.
However, it is apparently the best thing that they’ve come up with so far to combat the mighty jellyfish. Another method that was tried out involved pumping air into the ocean to create large bubbles so that jellyfish could be lifted to the surface and killed with pesticides, SCMP reports.
China is not the first nation to struggle to deal with jellyfish “invasions.” Over the years, nuclear power plants around the world have become clogged after sucking up large numbers of the squishy creatures. Back in 2006, the USS Ronald Reagan found itself stuck in the waters off Australia after running into a massive swarm of big jellies.
The recent rise in the number of large-scale jellyfish “outbreaks” in oceans around the world has been blamed on a number of factors, including global warming. However, China’s own jelly crisis may be more of its own making in the form of severe overfishing which has depleted the nearby waters of the jellyfish’s natural predators.