by Staff Reporter
A small beach in Minorca was closed for the second day running yesterday because of an invasion by jellyfish.
This was by no means an isolated incident as unusually high concentrations of jellyfish have appeared along Spain's Mediterranean coast this summer, to the discomfort of thousands of tourists, officials said yesterday. The Red Cross said its lifeguards had treated almost 11'000 people for stings on beaches so far this season in the northeastern region of Catalonia alone, twice the number from the same period last year, when the jellyfish count had already begun to rise. Almuñecar on the south coast had to cancel an annual swimming race across the bay last Sunday because of the number of jellyfish in the water, a town hall spokesman said. Factors such as drought, heat and over-fishing all contribute to a rising jellyfish count, said Xavier Pastor, vice president of the international environmental group Oceana, who is currently in Majorca on a turtle tracking project. Warmer than usual coastal waters encourage the creatures to venture closer to shore, in search of lower salt concentrations and nutrients in urban waste water and agricultural run-off. At the same time the Mediterranean's population of larger fish and turtles -- which feed on jellyfish -- has declined. “This year's crisis is not only affecting the Mediterranean,” Pastor said. “In the Azores (in the Atlantic), we recently found high concentrations of Portuguese Man-of-War, which is much more dangerous.” High numbers of jellyfish were reported in some beaches in the north of the island last month. Now, it seems, they are on their way back.

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