Thousands of jellyfish have washed up on the French coast after sea temperatures climbed four degrees in a month. Holidaymakers and beachgoers along the Bay of Biscay on the western coastline of France have been left too frightened to get in the water following the mass arrival of the stinging sea creatures. Experts have described the situation as “unprecedented” despite the run-up to summer being typical of an increased number of jellyfish.
The jellyfish have washed up along the shore from the French city of Nantes down past Bordeaux.
While their presence is not surprising in this month of May, it is their number that is unprecedented. “I’ve been here 20 years and I’ve never seen so many jellyfish”, a resident of Chatelaillon-Plage, a small town just south of La Rochelle said.
In Saint-Pierre-d’Oleron, next to Chatelaillon-Plage, residents reported an 83 per cent increase between May 23 and May 30 in the jellyfish population.
A little further south, at Saint-Palais-sur-Mer, jellyfish gradually colonised the resort’s beaches from May 24, with a new peak recorded on Tuesday.
There were also “several hundred” in the Arcachon basin from Friday, May 26, according to France 3.
Jean-François Pepin, a marine biologist at the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (Ifremer), said the arrival of the jellyfish had been caused by wind and rising sea temperatures.
He said: “The gusts of wind create surface currents that carry the jellyfish right up to the beach.”
He added: “In two weeks, the water temperature has risen from 12 degrees to 16 degrees. This favours the proliferation of jellyfish, which are carried along by the warm currents.”
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.