Swarms of jellyfish invaded the shores of Israel and the eastern Mediterranean earlier this summer, sending bathers scrambling away from the venomous creatures. But although the jellyfish season was officially over at the beginning of August, the implications of the presence of the nomad jellyfish – also known as Rhopilema nomadica – are far more far reaching, as they are just one of several invasive species that have managed to reach Mediterranean waters.
The nomad jellyfish managed to reach the Mediterranean several decades ago, travelling through the Suez Canal from their native home thousands of miles away in the Indian Ocean. The species have taken root in the mild waters of the Med, with some swarms even being spotted as far as the shores of Tunisia.
Dr Bella Galil from Israel's Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute leads a yearly study that tracks the jellyfish and other invasive species. She told CNN that the problem will worsen with the expansion of the Suez Canal.
It's not just jellyfish that are a problem: species such as the marbled rabbitfish reproduce at an alarming rate, gobbling up algae and rapidly stripping a habitat of its plant life and changing its ecosystem.
"We have this corridor pushing in all the alien species, who just push them out and replace them with a fauna, which is not the native one," she said. "The habitat is cut like a forest. Nothing could exist and those species lose their place in the Mediterranean."
Recent expansion works to the Suez Canal have reduced a natural barrier preventing most marine life from passing through, leading to an influx of species such as the devil firefish or striped eel catfish, which have venomous spines.
The Suez canal is "becoming a corridor for invasion," says Galil. "A one-way corridor of invasion."