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The Rise of Slime
August 1, 2006 8:06 PM   Subscribe

Altered Oceans: A Primeval Tide of Toxins The fireweed began each spring as tufts of hairy growth and spread across the seafloor fast enough to cover a football field in an hour. When fishermen touched it, their skin broke out in searing welts. Their lips blistered and peeled. Their eyes burned and swelled shut. Water that splashed from their nets spread the inflammation to their legs and torsos.
posted by MetaMonkey (32 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
In the Black Sea, an Atlantic comb jelly carried in the ballast water of a ship from the East Coast of the United States took over waters saturated with farm runoff. Free of predators, the jellies gorged on plankton and fish larvae, depleting the fisheries on which the Russian and Turkish fleets depend. The plague subsided only with the accidental importation of another predatory jellyfish that ate the comb jellies.

Sometimes nature just makes me smile. Mostly cringe and cry, though.
posted by odinsdream at 8:21 PM on August 1, 2006


"When you've got sores and the skin peels away, what are you going to do?"

• Sell it as a cosmetic skin peel at $120 an ounce

• Suggest arms manufacturers like Lockheed Martin get out there and weaponize that goo into something we can sell to both sides fighting in the Middle East

• Film a sequel to The Blob with the help of James Cameron, re-employing fishermen as best boys and grips

• Get Ace Pranks Inc. to repackage it as gag chewing gum
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:26 PM on August 1, 2006


I was in the ocean a little while ago, and, well, I didn't see any of that shit. I call BS.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:50 PM on August 1, 2006


Wow, this is so frightening. The accompanying photos and multimedia are worth viewing too.

This is only one part of a five part series - three are completed and two more to go. The first two look excellent as well, but I am finding it too depressing to read them all in one sitting.

Thanks, MetaMonkey. And kudos to the LA Times for the reporting and for giving this story front page billing.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:23 PM on August 1, 2006


I read that, and I kept hoping that it was a joke... but it appears that it is not.

I wonder how bad it's going to have to get before we drastically change our lifestyles.
posted by meringue at 9:24 PM on August 1, 2006


i am relentlessly amazed by the unforeen corrections/results that mother nature creates in response to human folly.
posted by tarantula at 9:30 PM on August 1, 2006


What gave me the shits was the fisherman who was happily moving from fishing for shrimp and bait to fishing for jellies. No thought of giving up fishing. Presumably his boys will be trawling with fine mesh for algae.

I've given up recreational fishing in my local, not-so-depleted waters, because stories like this are taking all the fun out of it.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:46 PM on August 1, 2006


I have some form of this in my little 10g chaeto growing tank...PITA and grows like gangbusters
posted by evilelvis at 9:50 PM on August 1, 2006


Between over-fishing, species pollution, disruption of deep sea flows due to changes in the ice cap water cycle, eruptions from permafrost bog carbon reservoirs when they begin melting, and ...oohh, just about everything else that's going wrong...

We are undoubtedly fucked. I hope to live out a full life before it all goes kablooey. I don't hold much hope for most of the rest of you: I think it's gonna get really shitty trying to live through the change.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:09 PM on August 1, 2006


Damn, is there anything we haven't screwed all to hell on this planet?
posted by fenriq at 10:37 PM on August 1, 2006


I hope to live out a full life before it all goes kablooey. that's it? that's your response? "I'll probably be dead anyway so fuck it, party!!!" way to be part of the solution dude...
posted by dinsdale at 10:51 PM on August 1, 2006


.
posted by russilwvong at 12:56 AM on August 2, 2006


Images of the stinging seaweed, Lyngbya majuscula.
posted by nickyskye at 1:10 AM on August 2, 2006


But don't worry! Jeebus is coming! Again!
posted by kcds at 4:28 AM on August 2, 2006


dinsdale, he didn't say "I'll probably be dead anyway so fuck it, party!!!" He said : "I hope to live out a full life before it all goes kablooey." FFF has many times in the past shown that he cares very much about our environment and does what he can to take care of it. No, if he's guilty of anything it's that of a cynical attitude, nothing more.
posted by ashbury at 6:09 AM on August 2, 2006


Jeremy B.C. Jackson, a marine ecologist and paleontologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, says we are witnessing "the rise of slime."

"The Rise of Slime" is so going to be my next punk band's name.

That said, this article scared me more than anything I have read or seen in a long time.
posted by bumpkin at 6:16 AM on August 2, 2006


Debbie MacKenzie has a new article describing her idea of how the oceanic food chain works.

the removal of sea animals may not be as ecologically benign as scientists and fishermen have long assumed - fishing and whaling may in fact have far-reaching negative consequences for the biosphere, including more bacteria in the sea and more carbon dioxide in the air.
posted by sfenders at 7:04 AM on August 2, 2006


"The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.
"The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water— the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter. " (The Revelation of St. John, 8:8-11, NIV)

(not a fundy troll, just an observation)
posted by leapfrog at 7:26 AM on August 2, 2006


This is beyond depressing, and I'd thought Elizabeth Kolbert's series on climate change in the New Yorker was bad.
posted by of strange foe at 8:04 AM on August 2, 2006


The interesting thing is that in 2003, the Pew center for the oceans released a huge report on the status of the world oceans, including problems like these and even more, as well as potential policy solutions. One year later, the US Comission on Ocean Policy released a very similar document entitled An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st century.

What has been done after these two monumental fusions of science, policy, and some great foresight and learning from past mistakes? Nada. The state of California is doing some remarkably progressive things, and a few other states are trying bits and pieces, but the national and international oomph behind any real solutions is just not there. And because everything happens under the surface, few pay attention. It's a damn shame. I've been watching the harbor that I work in slowly shut down since I've arrived 5 years ago.

Hell, if anything, the feds keep ignoring the blaring klaxons of warning - from fishermen, scientists, their own agencies, and more, and keep making things worse, like the current salmon crisis that was completely preventable and predicted that we're facing in California right now due to the feds and big agriculture.

Oh, and one issue I noticed wasn't really in these articles - invasive species (it's mentioned, but not highlighted) - for another form of "the blob" check out this invasive sea squirt - they're ALL OVER. Covering 6 square miles of George's Bank!

Just go down to your local marina, stick your head over the side, and you're pretty much guaranteed to see invasive sea squirts.
posted by redbeard at 8:20 AM on August 2, 2006


Excellent link. Mahalo, MetaMonkey.

I assumed that, with global warming, the rising seas could destroy most of the Pacific Islands this century (and the coral reef barriers are way too fragile to adapt to the increasing changes such as water temperature and water depths that block sun, so heavy waves will erode whatever is not affected by the actual increase in water). This story about these other ocean changes are chilling.

I think we could well see the end of my home in this century.
posted by Surfurrus at 9:46 AM on August 2, 2006


Looks like God's pressing the reboot button.
posted by elmwood at 10:14 AM on August 2, 2006


obviously ashbury didn't notice that those were "sarcastic paraphase quotes" not real actual "quote" quotes. ;-) (I did quote the actual quote, but didn't quote it, sorry for the confusion.) I personally subscribe to an industrial-strength cynicism, but hoping to "live out a full life before it all goes kablooey" is just not cutting it IMHO. Is say we reboot civilization rather than wait for god/jeebus/FSM/nature to reboot us.

and thanks for the post, MetaMonkey.
posted by dinsdale at 10:30 AM on August 2, 2006


dinsdale, when you say reboot civilization, you mean from an anti-civilization perspective? or just start it over and slowly get back to the present day, but hopefully more green?

Personally I totally think we're past the tipping point. I don't mean actually past it, but with the current attitude, unless there is a massive uprising against civilization wholesale, we're prett much fucked... I wrote a thing about this (how we're screwed) on my livejournal. Hope people don't mind the link. Feel free to comment if you would like to read.

One of my friends commented and essentially told me to chill out. Listening to Derrick Jensen will certainly get one undies in a bundle, I tell ya that much.
posted by symbioid at 10:37 AM on August 2, 2006


.
posted by kozad at 10:49 AM on August 2, 2006


..the most advanced forms of life are struggling to survive while the most primitive are thriving and spreading.

From backyard gardens to the Amazon rain forest, vines are growing faster, stronger and, in the case of poison ivy, more poisonous on the heavy doses of carbon dioxide that come from burning such fossil fuels as gasoline and coal.

posted by stbalbach at 10:54 AM on August 2, 2006


Well this is good news.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:52 PM on August 2, 2006


Well this is good news.

Yeah, things are looking up for primordial slime these days. I'm investing heavily in trilobite futures, myself.
posted by jokeefe at 2:43 PM on August 2, 2006


Oh look, if that didn't cheer you up, there's this for dessert.
posted by jokeefe at 2:58 PM on August 2, 2006


Pretty soon we'll figure out a way to make oil out of jellyfish.
posted by delmoi at 3:08 PM on August 2, 2006


I think we're past the tipping point. I think the environmental evidence is all around us. I think it will take no more than a human lifespan for the global environment to become increasing chaotic, catastrophic, and unsurviveable.

Even if all human activity ceased, the permafrost will continue to melt. It will release tremendous volumes of carbon, further accelerating the warming trend. The oceans will get warmer and sequestered (ice) methane will be released. It all goes downhill from there.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:44 PM on August 2, 2006


Other way around delmoi; pretty soon jellyfish will figure out how to make jellyfish out of oil. Probably have already.
posted by jamjam at 12:32 PM on August 3, 2006


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