Don’t worry about the Chinese navy, a few jellyfish can sort them out

Everyone hates jellyfish, but the Chinese Navy have cause to hate them more than most.

One of China’s most intractable enemies doesn’t even have a vertebrae—or a brain.

Chinese scientists and engineers are devising new methods to destroy swarms of jellyfish before they can get into naval propulsion systems, halting ships dead in their tracks or overheating their engines. Ironically, this seems to be a problem of China’s own making. Its overfishing, especially of shark fisheries, is a contributing factor to the global jellyfish population explosion.

Wow, a global jellyfish explosion, that is stopping ships.

Engineers at the Liaoning Ocean and Fisheries Science Research Institute in Dalian, China are developing a so-called “jellyfish shredder” to deal with large swarms of the marine invertebrates. According to the South China Morning Post, the device consists of a net hundreds of yards long lined with sharp steel blades. Towed behind a ship, the jellyfish shredder slices any jellyfish in its path into small pieces, decimating swarms of jellyfish and clearing a path for larger vessels.

Lol. The US Carrier task forces use destroyers to create a shield around the carrier…China uses a jellyfish shredder.

It sounds ridiculous, but the jellyfish boom is a huge problem and not just for the People’s Liberation Army Navy. Swarms of jellyfish, some as large as an armchair, are becoming more and more frequent and posing a hazard to man-made objects. Jellyfish swarms have closed down coastal coal and nuclear plants in the United States, Sweden, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and Japan, as intakes that suck up seawater to be used for coolant accidentally vacuum up large numbers of jellyfish, clogging them. Power plants affected by jelly swarms must switch off to clean them out. In the Philippines, millions of people lost electricity when the 1,000-megawatt Sual power plant was forced to shut down to remove 50 tons of jellyfish.

These jellyfish swarms also pose dangers to warships. In 2006, the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was incapacitated while visiting Brisbane, Australia due to blubber jellyfish swarms. Reportedly, cooling pipes for the ship’s nuclear reactor were clogged with the foot-wide jellies, necessitating an evacuation of the carrier.

China’s first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, was built in Dalian on the Yellow Sea and frequently exercises in the nearby body of water. The Yellow Sea has seen an explosion of jellyfish in recent years, particularly Nomura’s jellyfish, one of the largest marine invertebrates in the world. In 2009, a Japanese fishing trawler capsized after its nets became full of Nomura’s jellyfish, each of which can weigh up to 440 pounds. While Liaoning isn’t nuclear-powered, it probably does suck in seawater to use as coolant. If those seawater intakes are clogged, systems can rapidly overheat, causing equipment burnouts and even fires.

Ironically, the jellyfish problem is partially of China’s own doing. As many as one hundred million sharks are killed each year, much of it in the form of bycatch in an attempt to catch other forms of seafood but also for shark’s fin soup, a delicacy in China. Although demand for the soup has declined in recent years, the shark population is still way down. Sharks are a major predator of jellyfish and scientists believe their absence is a major reason why jellyfish populations have exploded. In addition, chronic overfishing can also lead to jellyfish taking over entire ocean regions, and China accounts for 35 percent of the global seafood market.

Sounds like we don’t need to worry too much about Chinese warships…just get bombers to drop jellyfish in their path.


-Popular Mechanics

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

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